What is the Insurrection Act?

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Security measures have been put into place in Washington DC after rioters stormed the US Capitol building.

The “Insurrection Act” is trending on Twitter and Google search. Many people want to know what it does. It allows the military to help quiet violent demonstrations. President Trump threatened to use it this summer.

The act was last invoked in 1992 to quell the Los Angeles riots. It was also used after widespread looting in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, after Hurricane Hugo.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser is seeking increased security around President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration in the wake of the mob insurrection at the Capitol.

“We believe strongly that the 59th Presidential Inauguration on January 20 will require a very different approach than previous inaugurations given the chaos, injury, and death experienced at the United States Capitol during the insurrection,” Bowser wrote in a letter to Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

She asked for a “pre-disaster declaration” for the District to allow for federal assistance. The Insurrection Act has not been floated as a way to stop protesters during the 2021 presidential inauguration.

The Insurrection Act of 1807 says:

An Act authorizing the employment of the land and naval forces of the United States, in cases of insurrections

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in all cases of insurrection, or obstruction to the laws, either of the United States, or of any individual state or territory, where it is lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia for the purpose of suppressing such insurrection, or of causing the laws to be duly executed, it shall be lawful for him to employ, for the same purposes, such part of the land or naval force of the United States, as shall be judged necessary, having first observed all the pre-requisites of the law in that respect.

APPROVED, March 3, 1807.

Before invoking it, the president “must first issue a proclamation ordering the insurgents to disperse within a limited time.”

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