Right-wing politicians and personalities have demanded that the nation’s police engage in extrajudicial acts of violence against people protesting the police killing of George Floyd.
Unrest has rattled the United States since Floyd, an unarmed black man, was filmed as he died handcuffed beneath the knee of white Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin, who ignored Floyd’s complaints that he couldn’t breathe and bystander’s pleas to release his knee from Floyd’s neck. Chauvin is facing charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Participants at some of the nation’s major protests have damaged property and clashed with police officers, who have been filmed in many instances reacting with shows of violent force. Police were filmed over the weekend plowing cars into protesters, firing nonlethal rounds at journalists, and assaulting peaceful demonstrators—including an elderly man walking with a cane. After multiple consecutive nights of demonstrations across the country with little relief in sight, the political right is encouraging an escalation in violence on the part of the police.
President Donald Trump told state governors on a call this morning to act aggressively against protesters causing damage in their states and that they “don’t have to be too careful” about how they treat those protesters.
“It’s a movement, if you don’t put it down it will get worse and worse,” Trump said, according to CNN. “The only time it’s successful is when you’re weak and most of you are weak.”
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas argued Monday that military units should be deployed and should do “whatever it takes to restore order. No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters.” As Media Matters’ Lis Power noted, the phrase “no quarter” has been used historically to refer to military declarations to kill enemy combatants rather than jail them—a declaration that is considered a war crime under modern rules of war. That didn’t stop Trump from agreeing with Cotton’s call for escalation.
“100% Correct. Thank you Tom!” Trump tweeted.
100% Correct. Thank you Tom! https://t.co/axdLX7kGNn
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 1, 2020
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida tweeted, “Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?”
Cassandra Fairbanks, a far-right media personality, posted messages throughout the weekend calling for protesters to be harmed and killed by the government, expressing her desire for Trump to authorize lethal force against demonstrators. She pleaded to Trump, “Please for fucks sake end this shit by any means necessary using any force necessary.”
“Not all lives matter,” Fairbanks tweeted Saturday.
I am now here pic.twitter.com/ejStxB7pWY
— Cassandra Fairbanks (@CassandraRules) May 31, 2020
Noah Pollack, a contributor to Washington Free Beacon, fantasized about the United States treating anti-fascists present at the protests like members of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda.
“Imagine the joyous feeling if you knew the people wearing orange jumpsuits in this picture had face piercings, purple hair, and were from Portland Oregon,” Pollack wrote, sharing a photo of individuals imprisoned and restrained in a cage.
On Gab, a social media platform popular with the right, right-wing operative Jacob Wohl suggested that Trump should deploy mercenaries to protest zones. He wrote, “In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, President Bush sent Blackwater contractors to New Orleans to take out the miscreants. President Trump should strongly consider doing the same.” Wohl also said Trump should deploy the U.S. military to cities experiencing protests and authorize soldiers to kill.
“The President needs to invoke Title 10 Powers, deploy the REAL military to American cities and issue shoot-to-kill orders,” Wohl wrote on Gab.
Brendan Dilley, a MAGA “life coach” and right-wing broadcaster, said that he and other gun-loving Americans were awaiting permission from Trump to take to the streets and start murdering protesters.
“If for any reason the president of the United States feels that it’s not getting done the way it should and decides to put out the tweet that says, ‘My fellow Americans, my fellow 2A-loving Americans, it’s time to take up arms against these assholes,’ you are all fucked in under an hour,” Dilley said. “[We’re] waiting for that one tweet, that one emergency text message from the fucking president of the United States that gives us the green light to finish this entire thing in under an hour.”
Matt Walsh, a commentator at Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, made excuses for people who drove their cars into protestersand blamed protesters for being in the way.
“If you’re blocking traffic, vandalizing vehicles, trying to stop and assault drivers, and in the process you get run over and die, this is your fault, the person who ran you over did nothing wrong, and you are the bad guy. Who is now dead. This shouldn’t have to be explained,” Walsh tweeted.
Liberty Hangout, the operation best known for producing “gun girl” Kaitlin Bennett, praised a video of police using force on protesters, writing, “We need more of this, but with live rounds. It’s the only way the riots will end.” According to a screenshot shared by far-right Twitter users, Twitter suspended Liberty Hangout’s account for seven days for violating the site’s rules against wishing physical harm on people.
Jesse Kelly, a right-wing radio host, tweeted that conservatives would need to suspend their desire to be liked to quell the protests.
“There’s no way to put down mass violence that will be popular on social media,” Kelly wrote. “Be prepared to do things that make you hated in the short term or these things are gonna continue.”