President Trump unloaded on governors in a phone call Monday over how they’ve responded to protests and riots across the country following the death of George Floyd, calling them “weak” and urging them to “dominate.”
“Most of you are weak,” Trump said. “You have to arrest people.”
“You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time,” he said, according to a senior staffer in a governor’s office who was listening to the call. “They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”
Trump, on the call with governors, law enforcement and national security officials, also told local leaders they “have to get much tougher” on protesters.
“You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” said Trump. “We’re doing it in Washington, D.C. We’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before.”
He urged cities like New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles to take similar measures.
The president urged governors to call up the National Guard, crediting them for helping deescalate the situation in Minneapolis. He told the governors they were making themselves “look like fools” for not calling up more of the National Guard as a show for force on city streets.
Attorney General Bill Barr, who was also on the call, told governors a joint terrorist task force would to track the agitators. He told local officials to “dominate” the streets and not react to crowds but “go after troublemakers.”
The president’s fiery demands follow five straight days of protests, some of which turned to riots and looting to leave entire city blocks in ruin. On Friday night Secret Service rushed Trump to an underground bunker as protesters pressed toward the White House.
As of Monday morning, at least 4,400 people have been taken into custody nationwide in relation to the chaos, according to an Associated Press tally. Meanwhile, countless more business owners whose livelihoods already have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are finding their stores damaged and ransacked.
Trump repeatedly called on governors to “get tough” over the weekend.
“Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors. These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!”
“SO TERRIBLE! Where are the arrests and LONG TERM jail sentences?” Trump asked in reaction to a tweet claiming to show a graphic video of a Dallas man being beaten into critical condition while trying to defend a business.
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Demonstrators have taken to the streets to demand justice and police accountability after Floyd died in police custody after authorities say Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck, reportedly for nearly 10 minutes, while three other officers stood by.
Floyd’s death came after tensions had already flared after two white men were arrested in May for the February shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and the Louisville police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in her home in March.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.