Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Monday evening responded to President Donald Trump’s comments earlier in the day criticizing governors and threatening a military crackdown on protesters.
Using blunt language, Trump said that “radicals” and “anarchists” are behind the unrest, and he urged governors to crack down on them.
“You have to dominate,” he said, according to audio of the meeting obtained by CBS News. “If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”
In a statement released Monday, the governor’s office pushed back on Trump’s criticism.
“Today, the President ‘strongly recommended’ to all governors that they ‘deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets,’ before implying that the role of the Guard would be to serve in a law enforcement capacity ‘until the violence has quelled,’” it said.
Trump “also suggested he may invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 to deploy the U.S. military into the various states,” it said.
“The President’s statement today demands that I speak out,” Sisolak said in the release. “I have already denounced violence and destruction of property. I do so again here. But I also want to acknowledge the peaceful protesters whose voices reflect the degree to which many Americans are justifiably frustrated and angry at the senseless murder of George Floyd, the improper use of force, systemic racism, and the rampant injustices Black Americans face.
“At this critical time, all Americans, especially our leaders, should be sending a message of compassion and taking the time to listen. Unfortunately, the President has once again taken the path of inciting combativeness, stoking racial tensions, and creating division when we need unity more than ever,” Sisolak said.
“… In recent days and at the request of local leaders, two Guard units have been activated and are currently on standby to assist in preserving public safety as well as the ability of individuals to exercise their rights to peacefully demonstrate.”
“To suggest that the authorities in Nevada — local law enforcement, the National Guard — are unable, have failed, or refuse to secure and protect the residents of the State of Nevada and their rights, privileges, and immunities, is misinformed. As the Commander In Chief of the Nevada National Guard I can state, categorically, that they have done their duty to protect all Nevadans, and will continue to do so.”
Trump calls governors ‘weak’
The statement was in response to an extended rant Trump leveled against the nation’s governors Monday, calling them “weak” for failing to quell the violence in the nation’s cities.
“Most of you are weak,” Trump told governors on a conference call. “You have to arrest people.”
Attorney General Bill Barr, who was also on the Monday call, told governors they have to “dominate” the streets and control, not react to crowds, and urged them to “go after troublemakers.”
Trump’s remarks to the governors followed a sixth day of clashes Sunday between police and protesters in cities across the nation that erupted in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis.
George Floyd protests: Demonstrators gather in front of Trump Tower in Las Vegas
More than 4,400 arrests have been made at demonstrations nationwide since video emerged showing former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe.”
Trump told the governors that he is beefing up police presence in Washington.
“Washington was under very good control, but we’re going to have it under much more control,” Trump said. “We’re going to pull in thousands of people. … We’re going to clamp down very, very strong.”
He added: “You have to arrest people. You have to try people. You have to put them in jail for 10 years, and you’ll never see this stuff again. And you have to let them know that.”
USA Today reporters David Jackson, Michael Collikns and Maureen Groppe contributed to this report.
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