Trump Suggests He’ll "Put Down" Americans Who Protest If He’s Re-Elected
President Donald Trump threatened in a recent interview that he would respond with force if Americans protest in the event of his reelection in November, Politico reports. For political purposes, Trump often conflates peaceful protests with "riots", according to CNN. According to a recent study, 93% of protests related to the Black Lives Matter movement were peaceful.
The remarks from the president came in an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro set to air Saturday, in which he was asked how he would respond to incidents of rioting should he be declared the winner on Nov. 3.
“We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that. We have the right to do that. We have the power to do that, if we want,” Trump said.
“Look, it’s called insurrection,” he added. “We just send in, and we do it very easy. I mean, it’s very easy. I’d rather not do that because there’s no reason for it, but if we had to, we’d do that and put it down within minutes.”
Trump's comments are concerning, given the president’s rhetoric and actions in the wake of widespread protests against police brutality this year.
Politico noted that “Trump drew bipartisan criticism in June after police officers and National Guard troops fired rubber bullets and deployed flash-bang grenades to force largely peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square outside the White House,” which allowed Trump and other officials to hold a photo op at a nearby church.
In July, Trump deployed an ambiguous mix of militarized officers from the Department of Homeland Security to Portland, Ore., where they were captured on video using apparently unnecessary force against a Navy veteran and loading protesters into unmarked cars.
It is not far-fetched to fear that Americans who exercise their First Amendment rights in November could meet with bodily harm.