July 26, 2021

Esper Says He Opposes Using Insurrection Act on Protesters

Under intense criticism for seeming to give President Trump’s violent response to institutional police racism the imprimatur of the military, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he opposes using the active-duty military—even as an infantry battalion arrived outside Washington, D.C.

The use of active-duty forces needs to be a “last resort,” Esper told reporters Wednesday morning. “I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

Trump threatened to use the 1807 Act on Monday night in remarks that followed park police using tear gas and rubber bullets—supported by National Guard forces that did not fire—on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square outside the White House. Clearing the square allowed Trump to pose for a photo in front of St. John’s Church, where he waved around a bible. He was accompanied by Esper and, in his combat uniform, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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