Last used during the Rodney King riots in 1992, the Insurrection Act of 1807 governs the ability of the President of The United States to deploy military troops within the United States to put down lawlessness, insurrection, and rebellion.
According to the Associated Press,
Jonathan Rath Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said several military units have been placed on higher alert “as a prudent planning measure” in case Walz asks for help. The Associated Press first reported on the potential deployments and, citing sources with direct knowledge of the orders, named four locations from which soldiers would be drawn.
Reports suggest the units could be called up within 48 hours to support local and state authorities. While these additional resources are available they will not be deployed unless local leaders request the help. This further illustrates the fact that much of the blame is to be placed on local politicians as they are the ones determining where resources are deployed.
AP goes on to explain,
Trump made the request on a phone call from the Oval Office on Thursday night that included Esper, national security advisor Robert O’ Brien and several others. The president asked Esper for rapid deployment options if the Minneapolis protests continued to spiral out of control, according to one of the people, a senior Pentagon official who was on the call.
The person said the military units would be deployed under the Insurrection Act of 1807, which was last used in 1992 during the riots in Los Angeles that followed the Rodney King trial. Another official said Saturday, however, that federal troops could be deployed to Minnesota without invoking that act. In that situation, they would perform non-law enforcement duties such as providing logistics help.
“If this is where the president is headed response-wise, it would represent a significant escalation and a determination that the various state and local authorities are not up to the task of responding to the growing unrest,” said Brad Moss, a Washington D.C.-based attorney, who specializes in national security.
Complete Lack of Local Leadership
As we watch yet another night of unrest across the country it is imperative to understand where the breakdown occurred. First and foremost, the death of George Floyd was abhorrent and tragic. Nonetheless, it doesn’t justify the rioting and looting we have seen in numerous American cities over the past few days.
Many would like to blame the police in these situations for not acting fast enough. This blame is largely misplaced—it is important to understand the police and law enforcement act at the behest of local elected leaders.
As many cities continue to see the ravenous individuals wreak havoc, it is becoming necessary for federal authorities to step in. If local leaders will not protect the people of these cities it is up to the President to act and it looks like that just might be what we are going to see.