DONALD Trump considered deploying tanks to America's streets after ordering helicopters to buzz George Floyd protesters, it's claimed.
In the wake of more violence the president apparently threatened to deploy military vehicles to Washington amid the escalating crisis.
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An anonymous White House official said Trump wanted to get tough in the city as a warning to the rest of the country.
Two Pentagon officials also told AP he ordered military aircraft to fly above the capital on Monday night as a "show of force" against demonstrators.
Choppers staged maneuvers in D.C. over the heads of those protesting the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Videos posted on social media showed them hovering just above groups who had broken a district-wide curfew.
Three senior defense officials also reportedly told The Daily Beast the idea of deploying the military was being promoted from within the White House rather than the Pentagon.
They claimed the president talked with key aides about using military vehicles or "the kind of hardware" used by the armed forces to quell violence.
The claims come as hundreds of soldiers armed with bayonets arrived at two bases near the capital.
The Army's 82nd Airborne Division was drafted in after Trump promised a more aggressive approach to the violence.
Defense officials said the US military and National Guard were operating under the mission name 'Operation Themis' – named after the Greek figure of law and order.
However, the head of the National Guard acknowledged that responding to the trouble on US soil makes his troops uneasy.
So far, more than 20,000 National Guard members have been called up to assist local law enforcement with protests around the country.
"This mission is an uncomfortable mission. They don't like doing it, but we can do it," said General Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau.
Last night, tens of thousands of people defied curfews to take to the streets of US cities for an eighth night of protests.
Clashes between protesters and police and looting of some stores in New York City gave way to relative quiet by night's end.
In Los Angeles, numerous demonstrators who stayed out after the city's curfew were arrested.
Large marches and rallies also took place in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver and Seattle.
In Portland, Oregon, crowds seemed to swell before 11 pm local time.
Police used stun grenades and tear gas on the crowd, calling it an "unlawful assembly."
Although rallies on behalf of Floyd have been largely peaceful during the day, after dark each night crowds have turned to rioting, vandalism, arson and looting.
On Monday night, five police officers were hit by gunfire in two cities.
Outside the US Capitol building on Tuesday afternoon a throng took to one knee, chanting "silence is violence" and "no justice, no peace."
The crowd remained after dark, despite the curfew and vows by Trump to crack down on what he has called lawlessness by "hoodlums" and "thugs".
Some protesters briefly pushed and rocked a chainlink fence, but were encouraged other protesters to stop. Local news media reported that the crowds dwindled by midnight.
In New York City, thousands of chanting protesters ignored an 8pm curfew to march from the Barclays Center in Flatbush toward the Brooklyn Bridge as police helicopters whirred overheard.
The crowd, halted at an entrance to the Manhattan Bridge roadway, chanted at riot police: Walk with us! Walk with us."
In a tweet earlier today President Trump claimed New York City was now "out of control."
On Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, hundreds of people filled the street, marching past famous landmarks of the film center.
Others gathered outside Los Angeles Police Department headquarters downtown, in some cases hugging and shaking hands with a line of officers outside.
Floyd died after a white policeman pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.
The officer who knelt on Floyd, 44-year-old Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers involved were fired but not yet charged.
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