WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump appears to be losing confidence of Americans generals — who he praises incessantly when they are on his side — amid growing revulsion across the country at how the self-professed greatest democracy has turned into a militaristic police state.
Nearly half dozen former and current generals have trashed or snubbed the commander in chief over the past 48 hours for his approach to the racial crisis roiling the country and the protests it has generated, even as videos are surfacing by the hour showing police brutality against citizens agitating peacefully. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, former White House Chief of Staff Gen John Kelly, and retired general John Allen are among the military heavyweights who have joined current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley in a pushback against a rampaging President who wants to unleash the military on the American people amid an unprecedented uprising against racial prejudice.
In fact, it has taken videos of police assault against elderly white citizens in broad daylight to open the eyes of many Americans to what their black brothers suffer, often out of sight and in the night. In one video from Buffalo, New York, a 75 year white man who approached the local police to hand over something was shoved so roughly that he staggers back, crashes into the pavement, and immediately starts bleeding from the head. The police assailants move on, leaving him to be attended later by a National Guard medic.
The video drew nationwide condemnation, resulting in the suspension of two officers after the city initially claimed the man slipped and fell. He is reportedly in hospital in a serious but stable condition.
In another incident in Salt Lake City, police violently shove an elderly white man with a cane to the ground. Yet another video shows police without provocation assaulting an Australian news crew filming protests. Peaceful demonstrators and journalists covering the protest have also been baton charged and pepper-sprayed without provocation in Washington DC, New York City, and other places.
Meanwhile, new video footage has emerged from Tacoma in Washington state, showing yet another black man, Mike Ellis, beaten senseless by the police on March 3. The county medical examiner has now ruled that his death, while he was restrained in handcuffs on the ground, was a homicide. Videos are also being posted online of police putting their knee to the neck of suspects despite the incident that led to the death of George Lloyd.
Such videos present a scattershot picture of an out-of-control police, whose generous budgets and military-level armaments are now being questioned by local lawmakers and civil liberties watchdogs, even as the Trump administration wants to increase their funding amid the pushback against deploying the military to quell a civilian uprising. While in some instances, police personnel have sided indulgently with protestors, taking the knee with them instead of to them, rights activists are contesting the characterization of the establishment that there are always a few bad apples among police: they say it is not just a few bad apples, or even the basket; the whole orchard needs to be uprooted.
All this even as Downtown Washington DC is turning into a garrison city. Nearly 8000 police, para-military troops, and security personnel drawn from various law-enforcement divisions are policing the tenth day of protests against racial inequality and are tasked with protecting the President, whose security perimeter had grown larger by the day and extends several blocks from the White House.
The “fortressing” of the White House and deployment of unidentifiable para-military and security personnel has drawn the ire of city leaders in a Democratic, black-majority district, with the Mayor Muriel Bowser writing a letter to Trump asking him to “withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from Washington, D.C.”
Bowser in fact has reportedly invoked the Third Amendment of the Constitution, which bars involuntary quartering of troops in private homes, to evict the 1200 U.S military personnel from DC hotels. The pushback has set up a confrontation with the Federal government and its supporters, including U.S Senator Mike Lee who called in “unpatriotic and unacceptable.” Terms such as revolt, insurrection, and civil war are now flying thick and fast. Meantime, the city is gearing up for what activists say will be a million strong protest rally on Saturday.