Democrats have slammed US President Donald Trump's threats to send in the military if cities or states refuse to deploy the national guard to quell violent protests over the death of George Floyd.
Declaring himself the "president of law and order," Trump said he was taking immediate action to "stop the violence and restore security and safety in America" as protests over the death continued for a sixth day.
Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis after an officer kneeled on his head for several minutes.
"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 US military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said.
"These are not the words of a president. They are the words of a dictator," Democratic Senator Kamala Harris tweeted in response to his comments.
"How low can this president go?" Chuck Schumer, the leader of the opposition Democrats in the Senate, tweeted, claiming Trump deployed tear gas to move demonstrators so he could walk to a church and hold a photo op "to appear like a tough guy."
"His words are empty. His actions reveal his true nature," Schumer added.
Joe Biden, the former vice president and presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party to run against Trump in the election in November, also blasted the president's words.
"He's using the American military against the American people. He tear-gassed peaceful protesters and fired rubber bullets," Biden tweeted. "For a photo," he added.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the president's actions "shameful" in a tweet.
"[Trump] used the military to push out a peaceful protest so he could have a photo op at a church. It's all just a reality TV show for this president. Shameful," the Democratic governor said.
But Republican Senator Marco Rubio appeared to side with Trump.
"The most important job of our government is to protect all Americans by providing law, order & equal justice," wrote Rubio.
"This requires bringing to justice those responsible for Mr. Floyd's murder. And it requires bringing to an end the anarchy, violence & rioting by any lawful means required."
Australian Associated Press