Trump invokes Insurrection Act of 1807

June 2, 2020
The last time the Insurrection Act was used was when the California governor requested help to quell the protests following the beating of Black man Rodney King by white cops. Photo: Edward Leavy

President Donald Trump held a Rose Garden gathering of mainly white male staffers on June 1 to announce the invocation of the rarely used Insurrection Act of 1807. He said if state governors do not “dominate” protesters with force he would do so by sending in the armed forces.

His presidential “reality show” was orchestrated for the cameras. He spoke to his white nationalist support base and the Fox News media. He issued the claim of being a “law and order” president, walked to a famous nearby church, where he waved a bible for the cameras, then left.

The 1807 Act, which was signed into law by Thomas Jefferson, is short: “Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any state by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any state, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion”.

The president can do so only if requested by a state’s governor. The law was written specifically to prevent dictatorial actions by the president. Trump disagrees.  The last time the Act was used was in 1992 in California. The governor requested it after days of furious protests when a jury acquitted the four cops who savagely beat up Rodney King.

Since the US capital, Washington DC, is a federal territory, Trump did not request permission from the mayor. Trump sent the armed police to attack peaceful protesters with tar gas and rubber bullets.

Trump’s action is a clear violation of the1807 law. No governor has requested the army. His smear of “left-wing radicals” and antifascists (antifa) will not stop the protests. The challenge is whether Congress and the courts will call Trump out.

The people, led by African Americans, will not stop their peaceful marches until justice for George Floyd and other Black men and women shot and killed by cops and white vigilantes are arrested and convicted of murder.

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