In a jolting escalation of protest actions in Washington D.C. and across the nation, President Donald J. Trump Monday evening threatened military force against members the American public who violate local curfews or participate in unrest, looting or violence.
From the lawn of the White House Rose Garden, and with assembled media able to hear flash-bang grenades exploding to clear protesters mere blocks away, Trump’s six-minute, 45-second address first ordered mayors and governors to establish an “overwhelming” military presence to “dominate” their streets.
Trump then said:
“If a city or state fails to take the actions necessary to protect the life and property of residents, I will deploy the United States military, and quickly solve the problem for them.”
Trump also announced he had dispatched “thousands and thousands of heavily-armed soldiers” and other personnel to Washington D.C. to enforce a curfew. During a delay in the start of Trump’s address, U.S. Park Police and military police could be seen on national cable television, deploying gas and clearing peaceful protesters in advance of the 7 p.m. curfew.
In contrast, Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed support Monday for protesters across the state and country while calling for an end to looting and destruction.
Speaking from the Genesis Church in Sacramento, Newsom said it was incumbent on everyone to end racism and curb police brutality. He also praised the legitimacy of the protests that have erupted nationwide following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd’s death while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department.
“The black community is not responsible for what’s happening in this country right now, we are. … We are. Our institutions are responsible. We are accountable for this moment.”
Newsom said he would not install a statewide curfew amid the protests because of the variance in activity from county to county. Curfew times have varied across the state, starting as early as 1 p.m. in the business districts of Beverly Hills, Long Beach and Santa Monica.
Newsom also said the state has some 4,500 members of the National Guard available for deployment throughout the state, if necessary. National Guard personnel are mostly in Southern California, for now, he said.
Newsom demurred when asked for a reaction to a morning phone call President Donald Trump had with governors across the country, in which he told them they would look “weak” and “like fools” if they did not meet protests with aggressive force.
“I could be part of the daily back-and-forth in the news cycle and continue to perpetuate the problems that persist in this country,” Newsom said, adding that he cares more about California residents who are hurting than “some of the noise I heard on a morning phone call.”
The protesters, Newsom said, are tired of being told to “be patient” and that justice will come in due time.
Newsom said, of addressing racial injustice:
“We’ve made progress … but this is a manifestation of everything that we’ve been promoting that we haven’t delivered.”
Parts of the Bay Area are receiving law enforcement assistance during the protests from neighboring counties, according to Newsom. San Francisco County and the city of Oakland have received mutual aid from areas of the state such as Tulare and Santa Barbara counties.
Across the Bay Area, and prior to Trump’s national address on Monday, Oakland, Hayward, Walnut Creek and Santa Rosa instituted curfews. San Francisco, San Jose, Hayward and others put curfews in place Sunday night, with significantly reduced looting and vandalism occurring in both cities.
Hayward joined other cities around the Bay Area in imposing a curfew that will go into effect Monday night and continue nightly for a week.
The curfew, which will be from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., is in response to vandalism and looting that followed demonstrations about the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police last week.
San Leandro and other cities around the region have implemented or are considering similar curfews amid the civil unrest over the death of Floyd.
Violations of the curfew are misdemeanors and can lead to an arrest or citation. Exemptions include first responders, people heading to home, work or to seek medical assistance, as well as media and people experiencing homelessness, according to the city.
The curfew will remain in effect until 5 a.m. on June 8 unless rescinded or extended by the Hayward city manager.
Earlier Monday morning, Hayward police shot someone after responding to reports of looting at a CVS store around 4 a.m.
Walnut Creek had instituted a curfew Sunday after looters damaged dozens of stores in the city’s downtown area, smashing windows and stealing merchandise. The curfew will remain in effect starting at 8 p.m. Monday through 5 a.m. Tuesday, and will continue through June 8, police said.
The Police Department is suggesting that businesses located downtown not open Monday, when many street closures will be in effect.
Walnut Creek police said in a statement:
“Your Walnut Creek Police Department stands with those who are horrified by the images out of Minneapolis. … We are your first responders. Please help us be there when you need us by ignoring calls for violence as a meaningful response to an incredibly violent act.”
The city of Santa Rosa will begin enforcing a citywide 8 p.m. curfew Monday. City Manager Sean McGlynn instituted the curfew in consultation with Santa Rosa police Chief Rainer Navarro. Residents will be required to stay in their homes from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through at least Thursday morning.
Law enforcement personnel, firefighters, emergency health care providers, credentialed media members, people traveling to and from work and homeless residents are exempt from the curfew, according to McGlynn:
“Gathering in protest to express our anger and frustration of individuals abusing power is our constitutional right. …However, we recognize that there was a difference the last couple nights between those that were protesting peacefully and those that clearly came out to commit acts of violence and destruction.”
Santa Rosa police officers reported protests getting rowdy Sunday night, saying in a statement on the department’s Facebook page that officers observed broken windows, looting of local businesses, vehicle sideshows, graffiti and water bottles thrown at officers amid an otherwise peaceful protest.
“(Floyd’s) death has further eroded trust nationwide in those entrusted to protect and serve. … I stand unified with our community that wishes to peacefully protest this injustice and I am committed to starting a dialogue for meaningful change in our city.”
McGlynn’s office also proclaimed a state of emergency Monday morning, which will remain in effect through Thursday. Santa Rosa residents can visit srcity.org/emergency for updates on the curfew, road closures and other information about the state of emergency.
Dan McMenamin and Eli Walsh of Bay City News contributed to this report.