A high-ranking military leader, who advises the Oval Office on national defense matters, is sorry he joined a media photo opportunity with the president after becoming a target of civil unrest.
Gen. Mark Milley regretted joining President Donald Trump for a recent media photo opportunity during protests against police brutality.
Extreme, ‘anarchist’ protests swept across the nation against the death in custody of Minnesotan George Floyd. Local police allegedly handcuffed and kneed Floyd’s throat before he became unresponsive and later died on May 25, 2020.
In light of the continuing unrest the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman wished he had not posed for the photo outside of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is also known as the “Church of the Presidents,” in downtown Washington on June 1.
“Senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched and I am not immune, as many of you saw the results of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week,” he said in a video shared on YouTube. “That sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society, I should not have been there.”
Milley feared that having his photo taken with the president was sending a message to Americans about the military’s stance on the protests.
“My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics,” he said.
He promised to never allow himself to be photographed again during any kind of civil unrest in the future.
“As a commissioned, uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from and I sincerely hope we can all learn from it,” he said.
The Oval Office previously rejected what it called false mainstream media reports that authorities used tear gas to forcefully drive out peaceful protesters from the same location.
“Media falsely claimed violent riots were peaceful and that tear gas was used against rioters,” President Donald Trump said on Twitter. “Fake news is hurting our country so badly.”
The president also described the protesters as ‘anarchists’ and arsonists after some of the participants allegedly attacked the church building. Multiple mainstream media reports and also Democratic Attorney General Karl Racine failed to mention there was an attack.
“If the protesters were so peaceful, why did they light the church on fire the night before?” he said on Twitter. “People liked my walk to this historic place of worship … you got it wrong.”