President Donald Trump says he “hopes” that the thousands of troops he deployed to the border won’t shoot members of the migrant caravan that is weeks away from arriving. However, if any of the migrants throw rocks or stones at service members, they will be shot at, he says.
The president considers rock-throwing to be the equivalent of using a firearm, “because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock,” he suggested.
Asked if he envisions the US military firing at migrants at the border, President Trump says: "I hope not."
"I will tell you this, anybody throwing stones, rocks … we will consider that a firearm, because there's not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock." pic.twitter.com/mnsc56EFT7
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 1, 2018
Trump made these comments while speaking about immigration at the White House on Thursday, much to the criticism of Twitter users who took issue with Trump’s comparison of rock-throwing to shooting a rifle, and his potential threat of force against a group of mainly women and children.
trump just declared that the throwing of rocks at the border will be considered the same as using a firearm.
Maybe it’s time to talk about Rock Control.
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) November 1, 2018
Fred Guttenberg, the father of 14-year-old Jamie Guttenberg, who was killed during the Valentine’s Day mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, broke down the difference between a rock and a rifle for the president: Had his daughter been hit in the face with a rock, she would still be alive.
“…She would be bruised and I would help her heal. Because she was shot with a rifle, she was killed and I visit her at a cemetery. Any questions?” Guttenberg wrote.
Trump, the AR 15 that killed my daughter is a firearm. A rock is not. You are a seriously delusional and dangerous person who puts America at risk.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) November 1, 2018
For those Trump thinks are stupid, I will explain the difference between a rock and rifle. If Jaime were hit in the face with a rock, she would be bruised and I would help her heal. Because she was shot with a rifle, she was killed and I visit her at a cemetery. Any questions? pic.twitter.com/IJo3usdSnO
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) November 2, 2018
Trump’s comments assume that migrants will be throwing rocks in the first place, and it’s in reference to events that took place last week at the Guatemala-Mexico border. According to the Los Angeles Times, a struggle between Mexican police and migrants attempting to access a closed border crossing in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, left 10 police and 100 migrants injured, and one man dead. “Some” migrants had thrown rocks and glass bottles at police, who responded by firing rubber bullets as a helicopter dropped tear gas from above.
Journalists and migrants said that the man who died, 26-year-old Henry Diaz, was hit by a rubber bullet, though Mexico’s interior secretary disputed that claim and insisted police “did not have weapons, did not intend to attack any person, and the instruments used were deterrents so that no women, children or young people would suffer any harm.”
Which is to say that, regardless of the actions of some members of the caravan, Mexico deemed “deterrents” to be justified so to not harm “women, children, or young people.”
Many point out that with Trump’s remarks—and with the deployment of troops to a region where the only conflict is one being caused by the administration itself—he is pre-emptively looking for an excuse to kill migrants. At the very least, Trump’s threat against members of the caravan only serves to further dehumanize them, and make them seem animalistic, violent, and less worthy of being able to seek asylum in the U.S.
I'm former Army infantry. Trump is wrong that you can shoot at someone for throwing rocks. That's absurd. It violates rules of engagement for combat.
HOWEVER, that 18 year-old Army private new to this shit and stressed out? His "president" just told him it's okay.
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) November 2, 2018
Trump says: “They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back – I told them to consider it a firearm.”
Trump went from throwing kids in cages…to locking them up in tent cities…now he’s ordering border agents & soldiers to shoot to kill unarmed children.
— Rula Jebreal (@rulajebreal) November 1, 2018
Remember the date well 11/1/18. On this day in history President Donald Trump announced building massive concentration camps to house asylum seekers while giving permission for the military to fire on civilians armed with nothing more than rocks. @realDonaldTrump
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) November 1, 2018
In a statement from the Pentagon, a spokesperson told CBS This Morning that it “will not discuss hypothetical situations or specific measures without our rules on the use of force.” However, its forces are “trained professionals who always have the inherent right of defense.”