RELEASE: Iraq Veteran Speaks Out Against President Trump’s Use of the Military To Quash Peaceful Protests, Says ‘This Is What a Dictatorship Looks Like’

Washington, D.C. — This week, President Donald Trump came under scrutiny from civil liberties advocacy groups after reports that anti-racism protesters in cities such as Portland, Oregon, were possibly being illegally detained by unidentified federal authorities. President Trump—who has sought to instigate conflict as part of his so-called law-and-order policy platform in the wake of police killings of Black Americans such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor—announced this week that he would continue to deploy a “surge” of hundreds of federal authorities to quash peaceful protesters in Democratic-run cities such as Chicago and Portland. This comes weeks after President Trump—flanked by top administration and military officials—ordered federal authorities to violently disband peaceful protesters outside the White House to pose for a photo at St. John’s Episcopal Church. 

Now, in a new campaign by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Derek Matthews, a former sergeant of the U.S. Marine Corps, says that these actions taken by an American president threaten its democracy. 

“That is what a dictatorship looks like,” said Matthews. “Using rubber bullets and violent means to disperse peaceful protesters, not because they posed any threat at all, but because they were in his way, on the way to a photo op.” Matthews, who served two tours in Iraq, says that President Trump has violated the oath he took in the military to uphold an Americans’ constitutional rights. In the video, Matthews states:

I took the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, the freedom of speech, and the right to assemble. Trump is violating the most important constitutional provision that we have. He views the enemy as the common American citizen exercising their Constitutional right.

As Matthews says in the video, we should all reject actions by President Trump that are inconsistent with American values.  

“Army National Guardsmen and police—they have weapons, they have armor, they have armored vehicles, and they’re operating like an occupying force,” said Matthews. “The same types of equipment that we deployed within Iraq and Afghanistan. This is what a dictatorship looks like, and it’s contrary to our values, and we can’t allow it.”

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