As President Donald Trump threatens to invoke the Insurrection Act to use aspects of the U.S. military against Americans involved in the demonstrations in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week, polling so far shows that most people are not happy with how he has handled the situation.
Indeed, the data demonstrates that a majority of Americans appear to be in support of the protests in general.
A Morning Consult poll conducted on May 31 and June 1 — several days after demonstrations began in protest over Floyd’s killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer who held a knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes — finds that 54 percent of Americans either strongly support or somewhat support the protests that are going on. Conversely, just 22 percent say they somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the demonstrations.
These protests have much more support, according to the poll, than the recent calls for “reopening America” that took place weeks ago (and which had the strong backing of the president). The poll suggests that just 28 percent of respondents think those protests were worthwhile, while 46 percent say they opposed them in a general sense.
As for the clashes taking place between protesters and the police presence at events across the country, more Americans than not still side with the views of those who are demonstrating, with 55 percent in the Morning Consult poll saying police violence is a bigger problem than violence against the police. Just 30 percent hold the opposite opinion.
Most Americans do not view Trump’s management of his administration’s response to the protests in a positive light, either. Just 30 percent of Americans think he’s addressing the situation in an “Excellent,” “Very Good,” or “Good” way. Another 11 percent give him a grade of “Fair,” while a plurality of respondents (43 percent) say he’s doing a “Poor” job so far.
On Monday, Trump announced he may invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 to utilize the U.S. military to respond to protesters across the country. The act was last used in 1992 in response to demonstrations that took place against a ruling in Los Angeles, California, acquitting four police officers who were charged with beating Rodney King.
Trump explained in a statement at the White House that his decision to use the military forces against Americans could come about regardless of whether local or state leaders requested their presence or not.
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said, referring to himself as the “president of law and order.”
Trump also said that he is an “ally of all peaceful protesters” currently taking part in uprisings across the country. But many have questioned the legitimacy of that claim, pointing out past statements where he expressed a desire to punch protesters in the face, as well as his vociferous opposition to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in protest during the playing of the national anthem prior to NFL games.