In his most outspoken public rebuke of President Trump in months, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that California would “reject” any attempts by the White House to deploy the military in major cities to end civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
“It won’t happen,” Newsom said during a visit to Hot & Cool Cafe in Leimert Park in South Los Angeles. “It’s not going to happen. We would reject it. We would push back against that.”
Dubbing himself a “president of law and order,” Trump threatened Monday to send “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers” into U.S. cities.
Addressing Trump’s threat for the first time, Newsom called the president’s remarks “just another zig and zag deflection from the administration.” The governor said he was pleased to hear U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper also voice opposition to the use of active-duty military forces in law enforcement roles to contain street protests.
Once a frequent Trump critic, Newsom has declined to condemn the president since the COVID-19 pandemic began, largely describing his own silence as a desire to not play politics during a crisis.
The governor arrived at the Hot & Cool Cafe in Leimert Park in the late morning on Wednesday, his first appearance in Los Angeles since the protests began last week. The cafe’s owners, Tina Amin and Anthony Jolly, have received some funding from California’s 8th Congressional District office to provide meals, but are also using their own money and donations. They regularly make about 350 meals for older residents and other community members in need.
The governor put together meals alongside volunteers and state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Newsom said he planned to meet with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Black Lives Matter organizers and the Los Angeles Police Department later in the day.
On Tuesday, the governor attended an event to clean up downtown Sacramento after a night of looting that was hosted by the brother of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man shot and killed by police in 2018
In pictures and videos shared on social media, the governor scrubbed graffiti off a government building and praised Stevante Clark, who has become an activist for reform since his brother’s death, for encouraging peaceful protests in the city.