We stand with Richard Myers, the president of Kansas State University. He is exactly right in saying that it was “not right,” the way the Trump Administration has responded to protests.
In particular, President Myers said he was saddened by the handling of the peaceful protest around Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. on Monday evening. In that case, federal agents broke up a protest by force, using tear gas, to clear the way for President Donald Trump to walk to a church for a photo op with a Bible.
President Myers is the former Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s top military officer. He has refrained from much comment on national security issues or national politics since leaving that post, where he served for President George W. Bush.
He said his first reaction to the incident “was absolute sadness that people are not allowed to protest, and as I understand it, that was a peaceful protest that was disturbed by force,” he said on CNN. “That’s not right, that should not happen in America, and so I was sad. I mean, we should all shed tears over that particular act.”
Protesters around the country are basically demanding equal justice under the law, a fundamental right in America. They have the right to protest, and their cause is clearly just.
President Trump has seized on the looting and rioting that has come along with some of the protests, puffing up his chest on Twitter to issue warnings like “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” He wants to send in the military; we learned this week that one unit from Fort Riley is on alert to deploy, probably to Minneapolis, if the governor there requests it. Thank goodness thus far he hasn’t.
President Trump’s basic tactic is essentially to divide, rather than unite; to condemn, rather than to understand.
That approach may, in fact, benefit him politically -- although we will only know the upshot of all this in November.
But to use force to clear a peaceful protest so that he could stand in front of a church holding a Bible? Breaking up a Constitutionally-protected right to assemble by government force, so as to pose for a photo?
We’re glad President Myers called it out. Because in America, that should be unthinkable.