“Can’t you just shoot them in the leg or something?” : The former US president apparently considered using violence to quell protests against racism in the police force. The Minister of Defense at the time reported this in his memoirs.
Former US President Donald Trump reportedly considered shooting Black Lives Matter protesters. Trump’s deliberations are revealed by his former Defense Secretary Mark Esper in a new book, according to the US news site axios reported. When, days later, after the death of African American George Floyd in late May 2020, protesters marched through the streets around the White House against police brutality, Trump reportedly said, “You can’t just shoot them? Can’t you just shoot them in the leg or something?”
Esper describes the scene in the Oval Office as “surreal” in his book https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/. “Red-faced” president “spoke out about protests during Washington session,” complains. The idea of an order to shoot was “heavy in the air” at the meeting, writes Hope axios according to his memoirs. According to Esper, he immediately tried to talk the president out of the idea. “I had to find a way to back Trump down without causing the chaos I wanted to avoid.”
Nationwide protests after brutal police action
The death of George Floyd during a police operation in Minneapolis had sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality in the United States. Videos showed officers pinning the unarmed man to the ground. His last words, “I can’t breathe”, became one of the slogans of the protest movement.
Mark Esper served as Secretary of Defense in Donald Trump’s Cabinet from July 2019 to November 2020. After losing the November 2020 election, Trump fired Espers. The handling of the “Black Lives Matter” protests had previously caused public tension between Trump and his Secretary of Defense. Trump had threatened to end the unrest in the country with military force if necessary. To do this, he would have had to activate the “Insurrection Act” of 1807, which allows the American president to deploy the American army in certain circumstances.
Esper had spoken out against using the US military to stop the unrest and clearly distanced himself from Trump. He had described such a measure as a “last resort” which should only be used in “the most urgent and dire situations”.