An image taken Tuesday night shows scores of National Guard troops standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as protesters calling for justice for George Floyd and other Black victims of police violence demonstrated peacefully below.
District of Columbia National Guard members, many masked, occupied the steps as anti-racism protests sparked by Floyd’s death last week in Minneapolis continued for a fifth day.
It comes in the wake of incendiary comments from President Donald Trump a day earlier. During a call with governors and in a Rose Garden address, Trump threatened to crack down on the nationwide protests with military force, making no mention of the violent tactics employed by police and building on his previous rhetoric casting demonstrators as “thugs.”
“As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property,” Trump said in his address, not long after federal officers deployed flash-bang grenades and tear gas to forcefully clear out a peaceful group of protesters near the White House so the president could walk to a nearby church for a photo-op.
Over the weekend, after some peaceful gatherings turned to violent clashes with police, some landmarks and buildings in Washington were vandalized, and fires were lit near the White House.
The staggering image of the military guarding the monument drew outcry online.