President Donald Trump threatened to deploy United States military unless states halt violent protests.
Trump said he was recommending that governors deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to “dominate the streets."
If governors fail to take action, Trump said he will deploy the United States military and “quickly solve the problem for them.”
Trump in his Rose Garden remarks said he would mobilize the U.S. military to end “lawlessness” as police fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House. Trump blamed anarchists and Antifa for fomenting unrest.
President Donald Trump delivered the remarks after deriding many governors as "weak" and demanded tougher crackdowns on burning and stealing among some demonstrations in the aftermath of violent protests in dozens of American cities.
Trump spoke at the White House as a large group of protesters demonstrated outside ahead of a citywide curfew. Just before Trump was scheduled to speak, police fired tear gas and deployed flash bangs to disperse the protesters, who appeared to have been demonstrating peacefully.
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 days of protests were triggered by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air. The demonstrations turned violent in several cities, with people trashing stores, smashing and burning police cars and igniting fires in historic Lafayette Park across from the White House.
The president urged the governors to deploy the National Guard, which he credited for helping calm the situation Sunday night in Minneapolis. He demanded that similarly tough measures be taken in cities that also experienced violence, including New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
"You've got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you'll never see this stuff again," said Trump. "We're doing it in Washington, D.C. We're going to do something that people haven't seen before."
The president told the governors they were making themselves "look like fools" for not calling up more of the National Guard as a show for force on city streets.
Attorney General Bill Barr, who was also on the call, told governors that a joint terrorist task force would be used to track agitators and urged local officials to "dominate" the streets and control, not react to crowds. He urged the governors to "go after troublemakers."
Trump's angry exhortations at the nation's governors came after a Sunday night of escalating violence, images of fires and looting and clashes with police filling the nation's airwaves and overshadowing the largely peaceful protests. The protests had grown so heated Friday night that the Secret Service rushed the president to an underground bunker previously used during terrorist attacks.
Photos: Protests continue as some plead for peace
Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.