Trump’s new threat to protesters
US President Donald Trump has sent a stark warning to people protesting the death of George Floyd, announcing the military was "ready, willing and able" to be deployed to Minnesota.
Waves of protests have given way to rioting and looting across the city of Minneapolis after the death of Mr Floyd, who was filmed pleading for air while a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.
Protests have also erupted in several other US states, from Los Angeles to New York.
As wild demonstrations continue throughout Minneapolis, Trump has warned the military could be in the area "very quickly".
"We have our military ready, willing and able, if they ever want to call our military. We can have troops on the ground very quickly," Mr Trump said as he left the White House Saturday afternoon to witness the second attempt of the SpaceX launch in Florida.
"They're using their National Guard right now, as you know."
Trump said protesters needed to be "taught" that they "can't do this", adding the Minnesota government needed to be "tough" in this situation.
It is usually prohibited for active service members to take part in domestic law enforcement but it would be allowed if a state legislature or governor requested assistance in the event of civil unrest.
The Pentagon said it was yet to receive a request from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, but several active-duty military units had been put on high alert to deploy in case he does.
Walz has mobilised the state's National Guard, sending more than 1000 reserves in addition to the 700 that were already in Minneapolis.
He said the violent demonstrations and looting that had sparked from peaceful protests were a "mockery of pretending this is about George Floyd's death or inequities or historical traumas to our communities of colour".
"The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd. It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities," Mr Walz said.
Mr Trump criticised Mr Waltz on Twitter, saying the mayor should have brought in the National Guard "days ago".
The National Guard has been released in Minneapolis to do the job that the Democrat Mayor couldn’t do. Should have been used 2 days ago & there would not have been damage & Police Headquarters would not have been taken over & ruined. Great job by the National Guard. No games!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center after the successful SpaceX launch, Mr Trump once again lashed out at protesters, saying the demonstrations were "delivering new anguish and pain" to the community.
"The death of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis was a grave tragedy. It should never have happened. It has filled Americans all over the country with horror, anger, and grief," the President said.
"I stand before you as a friend and ally to every American seeking justice and peace. And I stand before you in firm opposition to anyone exploiting this tragedy to loot, rob, attack and menace. Healing, not hatred, justice, not chaos, are the mission at hand."
He pointed out that the police officers involved had already lost their jobs, with former officer Derek Chauvin arrested and charged with murder.
Mr Trump said he understood the pain people were feeling but the memory of Mr Floyd was being "dishonoured by rioters, looters, and anarchists".
"The main victims of the horrible situations are the citizens who live in these once lovely communities. The mobs are devastating the life's work of good people and destroying their dreams," he said.
"We cannot allow a small group of criminals and vandals to wreck our cities and lay waste to our communities, we must defend the rights of every citizen to live without violence, prejudice or fear."
These comments came after the President sent out a series of furious tweets on Saturday as people protested outside the White House.
Mr Trump said he watched "every move" from inside the building and "couldn't have felt more safe".
"Great job last night at the White House by the US Secret Service. They were not only totally professional, but very cool. I was inside, watched every move, and couldn't have felt more safe," he said.
"They let the 'protesters' scream and rant as much as they wanted, but whenever someone got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on them, hard - didn't know what hit them," he added.
In another tweet the President said that if the protesters had managed to reach the White House fence "they would … have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen", adding that was when people would have been "really badly hurt".
Originally published as Trump's new threat to protesters