President Donald Trump has threatened to deploy the Army to quell growing civil unrest in the US over the death of a black man, George Floyd in police custody.
Trump said if cities and states failed to control the protests and “defend their residents” he would deploy the army and “quickly solve the problem for them.”
Protests over the death of Floyd have escalated in the past one week.
Meanwhile, four policemen were shot and injured on Monday night during unrest in St Louis, Missouri.
According to Police chief, Colonel John Hayden Junior, “Some coward fired shots at officers and now we have four in hospital. Thank God they’re alive.”
The president delivered a brief address from the White House Rose Garden, amid the sound of a nearby protest being dispersed.
Trump said, “All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd,” but warned that his memory must not be “drowned out by an angry mob.”
He said that the scenes of looting and violence in the capital on Sunday was “a total disgrace,” pledging to bolster the city’s defences.
“I’m 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.
The US president urged cities and states to deploy the National Guard, the reserve military force that can be called on to intervene in domestic emergencies, “in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets.”
About 16,000 of its troops have been deployed so far.
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary… then I’ll deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said.
But before taking that step, Trump would have to invoke the Insurrection Act, which in some circumstances first requires a request from state governors for him to do so.
This law was last invoked in 1992 during riots in Los Angeles following the acquittal of four police officers charged with assaulting black motorist, Rodney King.
The US President’s warning was met with swift criticism from senior Democrats.
Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive presidential candidate, accused Trump of “using the American military against the American people.”