Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley walked the streets of Washington, D.C., after President Trump activated and deployed National Guardsmen and active-duty military forces to the nation’s capitol in a show of force.
Milley told reporters that his message was, “To allow freedom to assemble, freedom of speech — that’s perfectly fine. We support that, we took an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America to do that, to protect everyone’s rights, and that’s what we do.”
“We’ve got the D.C. National Guard out here and I’m just checking on them and seeing how well they’re doing,” he added.
General Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, walking the streets of Washington DC right now. Briefly spoke to say he is observing the situation. pic.twitter.com/fHcYOTYMzN
— Shabtai (@velvetart) June 2, 2020
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Attorney General Bill Barr were also seen walking around, visiting police lines.
Attorney General Bill Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper both walking around the streets of DC tonight visiting police lines. pic.twitter.com/VZ1Q5dg4o8
— Ebony Bowden (@ebonybowden) June 2, 2020
Army Blackhawk helicopters were also flying over the capitol after the curfew went into effect at 7:00 p.m.
Military helicopters hover over protesters in D.C. after ‘mandatory curfew’@Dacheslow
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) June 2, 2020
The show of force comes after rioters looted stores, defaced national monuments, and burned a historic church a block away from the White House.
Trump fully activated the D.C. National Guard on Sunday afternoon, adding hundreds more soldiers and airmen to help quell violence on the streets of the city, and on Monday, ordered active-duty military police and infantry forces to the area.
After Trump’s orders, eyewitnesses said the streets of D.C. were much quieter.
Big difference from last couple nights. pic.twitter.com/eKVF9nYdJK
— Tim Barber (@ABC7TimBarber) June 2, 2020
Meanwhile, violence continued to rage in other cities. In Buffalo, New York, a protester reportedly ran over a group of police officers.