Trump Vows to Stop ‘Mob Violence’ Protesting Floyd Death

President Donald Trump vowed his administration would end what he called “mob violence” in U.S. cities following the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of Minnesota police, blaming leftist groups for clashes with police and property damage around the nation.

“The mobs are devastating the life’s work of good people and destroying their dreams,” Trump said at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in remarks following the first launch of U.S. astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil since 2011.

“There will be no anarchy,” Trump said. “Civilization must be cherished, defended and protected. The voices of law-abiding citizens must be heard, and heard very loudly.”

Saturday’s successful rocket launch by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which will carry two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, had served as a chance for Trump to take a victory lap for an electoral promise to reestablish American dominance in space.

It’s also a symbolic step; the U.S. is resuming manned spaceflight just as most of the country begins to emerge from lockdowns from the coronavirus pandemic and is in a deep economic downturn. Trump touted the launch as part of his “America First” agenda.

Demonstrations All Over

Instead, the day was overshadowed by demonstrations in Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and other cities, continuing the political strife and racial division that have accompanied Trump’s presidency. Protesters demanded justice for George Floyd, who died this week after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest for an alleged counterfeit $20 bill.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter. He is white.

“Radical left criminals, thugs and others, all throughout our country and throughout the world, will not be allowed to set communities ablaze,” Trump said. “We won’t let it happen.”

Trump didn’t specify how his administration would act against violent protesters.

“The leadership of the National Guard and the Department of Justice are now in close communication with state and city officials in Minnesota,” he said, “and we are coordinating our efforts with local law enforcement all across the nation.”

Friday’s Skirmishes

Even as Trump spoke in Florida, protesters were gathering again outside the White House. Demonstrators in Lafayette Park across from the White House skirmished with the Secret Service on Friday, leading to six arrests and “multiple” injuries among the agency’s personnel, it said in a statement.

Earlier Saturday, the president encouraged his supporters to rally outside his residence as well, inviting a potentially dangerous confrontation.

On his way to Florida, Trump threatened to unleash the “unlimited power” of the U.S. military on demonstrators, ignoring legal barriers to deploying the military within the nation’s borders for law-enforcement purposes. He has also repeatedly needled the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, expressing outrage that protesters in the city were able to enter and burn a police precinct station.

“Those making excuses or justifications for violence are not helping the downtrodden but delivering new anguish and pain,” Trump said at Cape Canaveral.

Bad Apples

Despite the outpouring of anger from protesters, who argue that Floyd’s death was the result of systemic police brutality and racism, Trump defended the “overwhelming majority” of police whom he said are “incredible in every way.”

“No one is more upset than fellow law enforcement officers by the small handful who fail to abide by their oath to serve and protect,” the president said.

In a series of tweets Saturday morning, Trump appeared to revel in the potential for violence outside the White House, warning that Friday’s protesters would have been met by “vicious dogs” and “most ominous weapons” had they dared to breach the fence around the property.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Saturday that the reference to attack dogs was “no subtle reminder to African-Americans of segregationists that let dogs out on women, children and innocent people in the South.” She called the comments “an attack on humanity.”

Trump depicted Secret Services agents as eager to battle the demonstrators, and later issued an appeal to his supporters to assemble: “Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???”

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Trump to Visit Florida for SpaceX Launch With NASA Astronauts

President Donald Trump plans to travel to Florida on Wednesday to watch the launch of SpaceX’s manned test mission to the International Space Station, according to a U.S. official, as he seeks to project an image of normalcy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The launch will mark the first time NASA astronauts have blasted off from U.S. soil since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

Trump has resumed trips outside Washington and is urging a quick return to normal routines despite U.S. deaths from the coronavirus approaching 100,000. He has shown increasing exasperation with state social distancing regulations that have closed down the U.S. economy and threaten his re-election in November.

The event is significant in that two American companies will provide ferry service to the space station, and it will also be the first time SpaceX has flown humans.

Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are scheduled to arrive at the space station on May 28 and stay for at least 30 days — and possibly as long as 110, according to NASA. The mission duration will be determined by the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.

In 2014, NASA awarded Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Boeing Co. contracts worth nearly $7 billion to fly U.S. astronauts to the space station. Russia has provided the sole crew transport since the space shuttle’s retirement.

The president’s re-election campaign has looked to capitalize on American space exploration — and his push to create the Space Force as a new branch of the military — in its merchandise and messaging.

In 2018, the campaign allowed supporters to vote on merchandise for the new military branch, and supporters can buy hats, T-shirts, and bumper stickers touting the Space Force on the re-election website today. Last week, Trump unveiled the official Space Force flag in the Oval Office.

To maintain a strong U.S. presence on the space station, and because of delays in Boeing’s and SpaceX’s development of their own commercial crew shuttles, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been negotiating with Russia’s space agency to take an additional seat on its Soyuz shuttle next year. NASA has only one crew member currently aboard the station.

Last month, Boeing said it would conduct a second test flight, without crew, of its CST-100 Starliner vehicle after the first attempt in December was cut short by software problems. That flight is planned for later this year.

— With assistance by Justin Bachman

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