US President Donald Trump has denounced the "angry mob" of people linked to protests and riots in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
Audible explosions could be heard from the White House's Rose Garden - where Trump addressed the nation today - as protesters clashed with police in Lafayette Park across the road.
After his speech, Trump made an orchestrated walk on live television through Lafayette Park, which had been cleared of protesters, to pose with a Bible outside the boarded up St John's church. He did not respond to questions about whether his speech and walkabout would further raise tensions in the country.
It was claimed the protesters were teargassed and cleared for his walk and photo opportunity.
Trump described the protesters actions as "domestic terror" and said they sought chaos, not justice, in a highly-controversial press conference that has sparked criticism from some quarters.
The country had been gripped by rioters, "professional anarchists", violent mobs, arsonists, criminals, looters and antifa, Trump said.
He recommended each state's governor to deploy the national guard "in sufficient numbers, that we dominate the streets."
"Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled. If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them."
The Washington Post reports that presidents "generally cannot utilise the military for domestic law enforcement. But the Insurrection Act of 1807 allows the president to use federal troops to put down lawlessness during emergencies. The act was most recently used in 1992 amid rioting in Los Angeles after the police beating of Rodney King."
A 7pm curfew for Washington would be enforced. Those who ignored it "will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail".
He described the protests in Washington DC as a "total disgrace", and said he would dispatch "thousands and thousands of heavily-armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers" to "stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property".
"All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd. My administration is fully committed that for George and his family, justice will be served," Trump said.
"He will not have died in vain. But we cannot allow the righteous cries of peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob, the biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities and as their president I will fight to keep them safe.
"I will fight to protect you. I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters... We cannot allow the righteous cries of peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob.
"Innocent people have been savagely beaten."
Nine military vehicles arrived at the White House earlier this evening as the curfew approached and the sun set.
Outside the White House, military personnel joined secret service police in military uniforms, along with the National Guard and other levels of law enforcement, who surrounded protesters at Lafayette Park.
Trump's remarks about using the military immediately sparked concerns from some commentators and citizens.
Reacting to the president's speech, CNN's Don Lemon told viewers that America was "teetering on a dictatorship".
Governors 'weak' - Trump
Earlier, Trump had lashed out at US governors calling them "weak" and saying they will look like a "bunch of jerks" if they don't start arresting people.
On a video conference with national security officials and top police Trump said "most of you are weak" according to leaked reports of the conversation.
"You've got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you'll never see this stuff again," he said.
"We're doing it in Washington, DC. We're going to do something that people haven't seen before."
Trump said the governors were making themselves "look like fools" for not putting more National Guard on the streets.
He urged leaders of New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles to crackdown on protesters.
The comments come as the US wakes in the aftermath of violent protests across the nation on Sunday night following the death of George Floyd.
Earlier on Monday, Trump pointed the finger at "anarchists" and "ANTIFA Organisation" after a sixth night of violent protests rattled the country from the White House to Wisconsin.
On Monday the US leader took to his favourite medium, Twitter, to criticise Democratic opponent Joe Biden while tweeting the date of the upcoming election, November 3 in a bid to galvanise his supporters.
"Sleep (sic) Joe Biden's people are so Radical Left that they are working to get the Anarchists out of jail, and probably more," Trump tweeted.
"Joe doesn't know anything about it, he is clueless, but they will be the real power, not Joe. They will be calling the shots! Big tax increases for all, Plus!"
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• George Floyd death: How cop's actions sparked wild protests
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The President also quoted Fox and Friends in saying: "These were the people that trashed Seattle years ago. Who's paying for these people. I was appalled that 13 of Joe Biden's staff were donating money to bail people out in Minneapolis. They should have stayed in jail until this is over (and beyond)."
"I don't see any indication that there were any white supremest (sic) groups mixing in. This is an ANTIFA Organisation. It seems that the first time we saw it in a major way was Occupy Wall Street. It's the same mindset." TRUE!" he tweeted.
Antifa is short for anti-fascist action and is a loose network of groups opposed to fascism, white supremacy and racism and favours direct action over policy change.
It is anti-government and anti-capitalist and is aligned more with anarchists then the mainstream political left-wing.
President Trump has previously accused the group of starting riots at protests over the death of George Floyd, 46.
On Monday, the US woke to a day of carnage after large protests in major cities turned violent with shops looted in downtown Manhattan and the White House turned dark amid protests.
President Trump was rushed to an underground bunker in the White House on Friday as protesters gathered outside the building throwing rocks and rocking barricades.
A Republican source told AP Trump and his family have been surprised by the vigour of protests and he has reportedly told advisers he feared for his family's safety.
Photos also emerged of protesters burning the US flag close to the White House. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades into a crowd of more than 1,000 chanting protesters in Lafayette Square, a park across the street from the White House.
The crowd ran away and piled up road signs and plastic barriers to light a raging fire in a nearby street. Some pulled an American flag from a building and threw it into the blaze.
As demonstrations continued past an 11pm curfew, Washington police said they were responding to multiple fires that were "intentionally set" around the city.
Floyd, died after being pinned down by white police officer Derek Chauvin who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd told him "I can't breathe".
The mantra has been adopted by protesters who have chanted the line at rallies across US cities from Los Angeles to New York, and spread to Europe and New Zealand.