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What is the role of the US military during protests?
Reporters looking for expert insight on the role of military powers during times of national emergencies and public protests should contact Syracuse University Professor William Banks.
Banks is the co-author of “Soldiers on the Home Front: The Domestic Role of the American Military,” which examines the laws that govern military conduct during times of domestic threats and unrest.
President Donald Trump has threatened military force to stop protests and expressed support for Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton’s call for the enactment of the Insurrection Act, which would allow for the deployment of active-duty units in law enforcement roles if requested by a governor or state legislature.
Professor Banks, who is the founding director of the Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law, offered his thoughts about which branches of the military can be deployed by states versus the national government.
“The military (National Guard) may be deployed by State governors Federalized military – National Guard controlled by the President or regular military – are subject to the Posse Comitatus Act, and cannot engage in law enforcement except in narrow circumstances,” said Banks.
Prof. Banks has been recently quoted on this issue by Military.com:
- “It’s a horrible situation. The confluence of the virus and the racial incident — it created powder kegs and there is a lot of pent-up frustration all over the country,” said William Banks. “What you need at a time like this is tremendous leadership on the part of state, local and national figures,” he added. “Martial law is an “extraordinary state of being, and it basically means the government isn’t in control at all; there is no law. Martial law is the power of a commander,” Banks said.
And by the Boston Globe:
- “The background presumption in our society has always been that we don’t want the military involved in law enforcement,” Banks said. It’s a cultural view that sets the United States apart from most countries in the world and is rooted in the country’s founding rebellion against England.
Members of the media can contact Prof. Banks directly at email@example.com or reach out to Ellen James Mbuqe, director of media relations at Syracuse University, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 412.496.0551.