June 02, 2020

Duckworth Statement on President Trump’s Misuse of Armed Forces to Divide America


[WASHINGTON, DC] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today in response to President Trump’s misuse of Armed Forces to divide America:

“Last night, Donald Trump trampled the First Amendment rights of Americans to peaceably assemble for a redress of grievances. Even before any curfew went into effect, Trump ordered Federal law enforcement to violently assault Americans who stood in his way of a disgusting, crass photo op. He may have been waving a bible, but in using police to forcibly remove a priest and seminarian from his camera shot, he revealed his contempt for the truly faithful.

“Donald Trump also threatened to exploit the most powerful military on the face of the earth, disrespecting our troops in the process, in order to do it. To then see the Secretary of Defense, a West Point graduate who swore to never ‘lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do’ and the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff walking like lapdogs behind a five-time draft dodging coward who is more interested in looking like a leader than actually being one sends a horrifying message to our troops—including our black and brown troops—that our military’s leaders will not protect them from unlawful orders.

“We cannot allow any Commander in Chief to use our active-duty servicemembers to silence our neighbors. To drive yet another wedge between Americans. We cannot allow any Commander in Chief to put our Armed Forces’ reputation as the last institution Americans can trust and respect at risk by using them unlawfully and putting them in a position of exacerbating the divisions driving our union apart. Tear-gassing peaceful protesters is not leadership, it’s cowardice. Threatening military force and imprisonment against Americans exercising their Constitutional rights is not Presidential, it’s tin-pot dictatorial.

America deserves leaders who unite us at all times, but in times of crisis like this, leaders need to listen to cries for help and give those fighting for justice a platform to be heard, not silence them with force. Americans are in pain right now, but instead of helping us all heal, Donald Trump is causing more pain. As members of one of the most diverse institutions in our country, I know that our servicemembers understand this pain—that many are hurting themselves—and I know they want to help our nation heal. They deserve—and we all deserve—a Commander in Chief who pulls us all together instead of abusing our dedicated servicemembers to push us further apart.”