Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday he opposes use of the Insurrection Act, which would allow President Donald Trump to use active-duty military forces for law enforcement duties in containing street protests.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Esper said active-duty troops in a law enforcement role should be used in the United States “only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” adding, “We are not in one of those situations now.”
Use of the Insurrection Act has been discussed as Trump has talked about using the military to quell violent protests in U.S. cities. Esper has authorized the movement of several active-duty Army units to military bases just outside the nation’s capital, but they have not been called to action.
In his Pentagon remarks, Esper strongly criticized the actions of the Minneapolis police, in whose custody George Floyd died after an officer held his knee to Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Esper called the act “murder” and “a horrible crime.”