As President Donald Trump faces growing criticism from veterans and some ex-military leaders—including his former Defense Secretary Gen. Jim Mattis—for deploying U.S. troops against peaceful protesters, busloads of soldiers arrived in the nation’s capital on Wednesday in what critics warned is part of the White House’s effort to intimidate and squash nationwide demonstrations against the police killing of George Floyd.
More than 10 tour buses filled with troops pulled up in Washington, D.C. Wednesday afternoon after Pentagon chief Mark Esper—who just hours earlier balked at Trump’s threat to use active-duty forces to confront protesters—reversed his order sending soldiers home from the capital region following a meeting at the White House.
“It is unclear if Esper met with President Donald Trump,” the Associated Press reported.
The buses arrived as demonstrations in the nation’s capital and across the country continued to grow even in the face of brutality from police and members of the National Guard.
“The numbers of U.S. military security forces in D.C. right now is just ridiculous. This is pure intimidation,” Tim Shorrock, correspondent for The Nation, tweeted in response to a video of troops lining up in the capital. “Trump is very afraid. The longer we stay in the streets, the more frightened he gets.”
“This is what authoritarianism looks like,” added journalist Ben Norton. “After decades of waging war across the planet, the U.S. empire is waging war directly on its own people.”