USA: some GIs have refused to follow the President’s orders to deploy to cities during protests

A picture of two federal police during a BLM protests
BLM protests in Philadelphia / Image: Flicker/CC2.0

At the beginning of June, the US President threatened state governors with the 1807 Insurrection Act by sending military and federal police into cities across the US - as happened in Washington D.C. - if they didn’t react and repress protest in their states. Some National Guard and active-duty GIs reached out to Veterans and GI rights organisations to consult about their options if they were going to refuse to comply and follow orders.

The Insurrection Act allows the president, under certain circumstances, to use the military for law enforcement purposes without the approval of the Congress, even when the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits it.

According to the GI’s rights organization the consequences of refusing orders to deploy in cities are not clear: they could face charges of desertion, Absent Without Leave, misconduct charges, separation from the Army with an other-than-honourable discharge, or not be charged at all.

Several National Guard and active-duty GI’s argued that they haven’t received any training on domestic riot response or de-escalation tactics, and deployment would mean they would have to use tactics and weapons that they have not received training in, which would be even more dangerous for the population. Some soldiers were hesitant to comply as it would mean turning on their own communities, causing an unbearable moral burden for them.

Source: Truthout, As Trump Threatens to Send Military Into Cities, Some GIs Refuse to Comply, 13 August 2020

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