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Home / Press Release / Retired Military Leaders Urge Governors to Resist Trump’s Attempt to Use Military Against Protesters
June 09, 2020

Retired Military Leaders Urge Governors to Resist Trump’s Attempt to Use Military Against Protesters

WASHINGTON -  In the wake of mass protests in U.S. cities against police brutality and racial injustice, 38 retired leaders from all four branches of the United States Armed Forces have signed a statement calling on state governors to resist President Trump’s attempts at a militarized response against protesters. The signers also reject the politicization of the armed forces that such a move would entail and warn against threatening the high standing the military holds with the American public.

An excerpt from the statement reads:

“Our country has a wise tradition of keeping the U.S. military out of domestic law enforcement. Like the deployment of troops abroad, their deployment at home should only be a last resort. Nothing happening in the country right now comes close to requiring this extraordinary step. States and cities have sufficient resources to address those exploiting otherwise peaceful protests to commit crimes. At the same time, officials at all levels should work to meet the demands of the law-abiding protestors justifiably enraged by the loss of Black lives, systemic racism and police brutality.”

The U.S. military should maintain a limited role in domestic affairs, in contrast with authoritarian regimes whose militaries are active in quashing political opposition to the state leader. In healthy democracies, not even the president or prime minister should activate military forces against the free speech activities of citizens. This breach would shatter the trust and admiration much of the American public has for the armed forces and their mandate to defeat tyranny and advance prosperity outside the United States.

The 38 signatories of the letter include former Director of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency Michael Hayden, four-star Army General James T. Hill, and former Commander in Chief of U.S. Army Europe General David Maddox. A full list of signers can be found here

On June 1, Human Rights First CEO, Michael Breen said this about military deployment against protesters in the United States: “The American military is the most powerful fighting force the world has ever seen, but it must not be used as a tool for social control in American communities. The states have adequate first responders and emergency service providers, including the National Guard, to manage the issues at hand.”