Trump threatening the shooting of migrants who throw rocks

CBS This Morning/YouTube fred_guttenberg/Twitter Remix by Samantha Grasso

Trump says that border troops may shoot at migrants throwing rocks

The president is equating rocks to guns—and apparently looking for an excuse to shoot migrants.


Samantha Grasso

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Posted on Nov 2, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 2:38 am CDT

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.

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.

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’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.

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.”

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*First Published: Nov 2, 2018, 9:17 am CDT