Former Secretary of Defense and Four Star Marine Corps General James Mattis, one of the most decorated modern military officers and one of the most respected living military leaders, has written a scathing op-ed of President Trump’s handling of the current protests and especially the threat of using the military on US soil against US citizens.
“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis writes. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”
“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago,” he writes, “I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”
Mattis’ entire statement can be read at The Atlantic.
George Floyd was killed while handcuffed in police custody on May 25th in Minneapolis. Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who can be seen in videos with his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck has been arrested and charged with 3rd degree murder. The other three officers who were involved in the arrest have not yet been charged.
The killing has sparked widespread, nationwide protests, which in many instances have, at times, turned into rioting, looting, and property destruction. Hundreds of people have been arrested and injured. One federal law enforcement officer has been killed along with several civilians and numerous injuries among officers and protesters.
The National Guard has been deployed in several states in an effort to keep the peace.
Many state and local leaders have accused outside provocateurs of hijacking protests and turning them violent for their own reasons. Among the groups accused of doing this are ANTIFA, alt-right groups, and white supremacy groups.