The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns using the National Guard and/or military to restore order within the United States. The National Guard is technically part of the Armed Services, but they operate differently. The President can federalize the National Guard in times of emergency to fight international enemies or to restore order inside the nation. If this happens, the National Guard operates under the command of the Department of Defense. However, the National Guard does not usually operate this way.
The National Guard operates under the direction of the Governor of the State where the unit is located. When the police officers in Minneapolis-St. Paul lost control of the city to the riots and looted, the governor called in the National Guard to restore order. I do not know the details of activating the National Guard, but I do know that they are available to the governors when needed.
There have been no soldiers marching in the streets of America since the colonists obtained freedom from Great Britain. However, there are times when our nation needs military forces against insurrection – read riots – or natural disasters. President Donald Trump called for the National Guard to be used in Minnesota, and they are there. However, I do not know if they have been federalized or are acting on orders from their governor.
President Trump and Attorney General William Barr have their eyes on the riots and protests over the death of George Floyd last week. Riots have happened in many cities across the United States, and they appear to have been orchestrated by a central source or coordinated sources. Several mayors have indicated that the people arrested in their cities were not residents of those cities. Some of their cars bore out-of-state licenses. Attorney General William Barr made the following press release today.
With the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been hijacked by violent radical elements. Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda.
It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it. The continued violence and destruction of property endangers the lives and livelihoods of others, and interferes with the rights of peaceful protestors, as well as all other citizens.
It also undercuts the urgent work that needs to be done – through constructive engagement between affected communities and law enforcement leaders – to address legitimate grievances. Preventing reconciliation and driving us apart is the goal of these radical groups, and we cannot let them succeed.
It is the responsibility of state and local leaders to ensure that adequate law enforcement resources, including the National Guard where necessary, are deployed on the streets to reestablish law and order. We saw this finally happen in Minneapolis last night, and it worked.
Federal law enforcement actions will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law.
To identify criminal organizers and instigators, and to coordinate federal resources with our state and local partners, federal law enforcement is using our existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF).
The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.
I understand that crossing state lines to riot is a federal offence. If any of the arrested people were from out-of-state, they could be facing federal charges. Meanwhile, the Minnesota National Guard – after allowing the riots to continue for three days – has brought order to Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Police officers in Salt Lake City brought the protests there under control without the help of the National Guard. However, other governors may be forced to call out their National Guard units if the protests continue.
Fred Lucas wrote an interesting article containing some history of numerous times when U.S. Presidents have called the military to restore order within the nation. President George H. W. Bush and President George W. Bush each invoked the Insurrection Act of 1807 when they “sent federal troops to respond to emergencies.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower enforced federal civil rights under the same act. Two other Presidents – Herbert Hoover and Woodrow Wilson – called on federal forces to help during emergencies.
Most Americans over the age of 20 remember that President George W. Bush sent the National Guard into airports after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Fewer people will remember that President George H. W. Bush sent “federal troops into Los Angeles in 1992 to restore order after the city erupted in riots after the Rodney King affair. Even though “police officers were caught on camera beating up” King, a jury acquitted them.
There are very few Americans alive who remember the day in 1957 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower faced down Democrat Governor of Alabama Orval Faubus. It was during the time when schools were being desegregated, and “nine black high school students tried to attend the all-white Central High School in Little Rock.” Faubus announced before the school year began that he would call in the National Guard to prevent the “Little Rock Nine” from attending that school. The National Guard – under direction of the governor -- prevented the students from attending. Then the governor pulled the National Guard and replaced them with the State Police.
At some point, riots began. Eisenhower used an Executive Order to invoke the Insurrection Act and federalize the Arkansas National Guard. He sent the 101st Airborne Division to stop the riots. The “Little Rock Nine” attended their first full day of classes on September 25, 1957, under the protection of the Arkansas National Guard and other federal troops. They attended the school until the last day of the school year but received many threats.
Lucas gave several other examples, but they were either before my time – or I do not remember them. They show that the military can be used to restore order in the states if the governors cannot or will not enforce laws. I encourage you to read about them because it is always good to know the history of one’s nation.