Gillibrand: Don’t use military to suppress protests

Posted 3 June 2020 at 9:44 pm

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined Senate Democrats in condemning the Trump administration’s threat to use military units meant for combat to protect Trump’s political interests.

Amidst nationwide protests calling for justice following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, President Trump has threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act to suppress peaceful protests.

In a letter to U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, Gillibrand and her colleagues expressed deep concerns over the use of the military to restrict Americans’ First Amendment rights.

“Rather than listen or acknowledge the legitimate pain of protesters and the black community, President Trump has sought to divide us further, eagerly inflaming tensions and sowing anger and fear,” said Senator Gillibrand. “His continued threats to use violence against peaceful protesters and deploy our military to states is outrageous and deeply troubling. The Department of Defense must immediately answer whether the Department would deploy federal troops outside of the use of the Insurrection Act and I demand that combat units are not used to impede on Americans’ civil liberties in the fight for racial justice.”

The Insurrection Act, last used in 1992, is an exception to the Posse Comitatus Act to be invoked only under extreme conditions. The legislation allows states to request support from the federal government, and would allow the President to activate federal troops independent of a state’s request – under specific and limited conditions which are not currently met.

In the letter, Senator Gillibrand urges the Department of Defense provide information by Friday, June 5, on whether the Department would deploy federal troops outside of the use of the Insurrection Act, if deployments would ever include combat designated troops, how troops would be trained and prepared, what the mission, scope, and rules would entail for the use of force as well if they would be authorized to perform arrests.

Click here to see the full letter.

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