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Mayor Durkan denounces Trump’s threat to send troops to Seattle

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Sunday, May 31.

On Monday, President Trump threatened to deploy the United States military to American cities to quell a rise of violent protests, but Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says that’s unconstitutional and illegal.

Seattle police timeline: Officers arrested 57 people on Saturday

Trump said he would mobilize “thousands and thousands” of soldiers to keep the peace if governors did not use the National Guard to shut down the protests.

Durkan tweeted a long statement shortly after the president’s promise:

The president’s threat to force U.S. military troops on local jurisdictions is unconstitutional and illegal, and shows a shocking lack of understanding about the use and work of our U.S. military.

The Posse Comitatus Act specifically prohibits this type of executive overreach and the mobilization of the military against the American public.

We are a nation of laws and fundamental constitutional guarantees, and one of the most important is the right of every American to assemble, peacefully protest, and to free speech which is what we have overwhelmingly seen across the country.

We welcomed the National Guard over the weekend who have helped in unarmed duties with support and logistics as we deal with the effects of civil unrest and the bad actions of a few. But let me be clear: no U.S. Military troops are needed nor will they act as police in Seattle.

This is an opportunity for community to righteously express anger at the systemic inequities that continue to pollute our society.

I support our residents right to assemble and I am glad they are doing so. I am hopeful that through this time of grief and anger, we will be able to channel this energy into sustained, systemic reform across our country.

Under the Civil War-era Posse Comitatus Act, federal troops are prohibited from performing domestic law enforcement actions such as making arrests, seizing property or searching people. In extreme cases, however, the president can invoke the Insurrection Act, also from the Civil War, which allows the use of active-duty or National Guard troops for law enforcement.

Earlier Monday, Trump spoke to governors on a video teleconference that also included law enforcement and national security officials, telling the state leaders they “have to get much tougher.”

“Most of you are weak,” Trump said. “You have to arrest people.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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