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Labor Veterans React to Presidents ‘Photo-Op’ that Used Military

June 11, 2020

By Joe Levine

The AFL-CIO’s Union Veterans Council has called for the resignation of both U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley for their participation in the violent clearing of peaceful protesters in Washington DC. The event was staged for a President Trump photo-op. 

 On the evening of  Monday, June 1, 2020.  President Donald  Trump ordered federal police and national guard to force peaceful protesters to be pushed out of  Lafayette Park, across from the White House. This entire tragic episode was staged so the President could stand in front of St. John’s Church for a photo-op.

Will Attig, executive director of the UVC, an affiliate veterans organization within the labor movement, said in a statement  that the actions of Esper and Milley “have jeopardized the American public trust, confidence, and respect for the brave men and women who volunteer” in the nation’s military. “Our military is not a prop for photo-ops and political statements. This spectacle to deploy our troops created an unsafe environment and became an abuse of power,” continued Attig.

Trump’s former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that what transpired under Trump’s authority in Lafayette Park was an “abuse of executive authority” which made a “mockery of” the U.S. Constitution.

In response to the condemnation of the event from Mattis, Attig, Nancy Pelosi, and many other military leaders and legislators,  Esper claimed he was unaware beforehand of plans to stage the photo-op in which he participated alongside the president. 

“President Trump has set a violent and misguided tone in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic murder,” Attig said. “It is time for our leaders at every level to challenge and repudiate this dangerous rhetoric—and for those at the top of our military, who failed in this responsibility, to step down.”

June 11, 2020

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