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US military establishing ‘central command center’ to oversee riot responses

President Donald J. Trump is joined by Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, left; Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley, right, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in the Situation Room of the White House monitoring developments as U.S. Special Operations forces close in on notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria with a mission to kill or capture the terrorist. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
June 02, 2020

President Donald Trump’s cabinet is preparing a “central command center” for coordinating federal responses to rioting across many states in the country.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced on Monday that Attorney General Bill Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper would be involved in sending federal assets. McEnany responded to questions about Trump’s call on governors to mobilize law enforcement to respond to rioting and “dominate.”

“[Trump] has had two briefings with Secretary Esper and A.G. Barr and Gen. Milley was there,” she said. “And there will be additional federal assets deployed across the nation. There will be a central command center in conjunction with the state and local governments that will include Gen. Milley, Secretary Esper, and A.G. Barr, but I won’t go any further in announcing what actions.”

McEnany indicated the Trump cabinet has observed that police lines meant to accompany peaceful protests being “overwhelmed by massive protests that have turned into riots, the peaceful protests need to be distinguished from the riots we’ve seen.”

She said when law enforcement lines are overwhelmed law enforcement instead goes on the defense.

McEnany’s comments came hours before Trump announced on Monday that he had called on all state governors to activate their own state’s National Guard units, where appropriate, to stop rioting and violence. Trump said if states did not take measures on their own to stop the rioting, he would order active military to respond.

“Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” Trump said Monday night. “If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United State military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

As Trump raised the call for law enforcement and even military responses to rioting, he invoked cases of buildings burned, cops who had been struck in the face by bricks and a federal employee who was shot and killed in Oakland, Calif.

On Saturday Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced the full mobilization of his state’s National Guard units. Walz noted he had seen a shift a difference between peaceful demonstrations and coordinated attacks by “militarized” individuals. He said demonstrations in Minneapolis had become about “attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great city.”

Walz and Minnesota National Guard Adjutant Gen. Jon Jensen also indicated they were aware of federal resources, including active military police units being offered to respond to the rioting.

“While we were not consulted with as it relates to that, I do believe it’s a prudent move to provide other options available for the Governor, if the Governor elects to use those resources,” Jensen said at the time.