President Donald Trump has largely rejected the idea that his words can inspire others to do hateful things. Yet his recent vitriolic comments regarding immigrants hoping to seek asylum to the United States were recently used by a foreign military to justify their shooting and killing their own citizens.
Earlier this week, the Nigerian army shot and killed protesters who were blocking traffic in the capital city of Abuja. At least 1,000 protesters were doing so at that site, as well as at two other sites in the city, according to reporting from the New York Times.
Video from the day of the protest shows some protesters throwing rocks at members of the heavily armed military. In response, army officers shot back at the protesters, hitting some innocent individuals in the back as they fled the gunfire.
Officially, Nigeria has admitted that three individuals died in the skirmish. Others have higher estimates, including Amnesty International, which has said as many as 40 were shot and killed by the army at the main and auxiliary protests. A reporter from Reuters said he counted at least 20 bodies at the main site alone.
Criticism took hold in the city following the killings. To justify their actions, however, the Nigerian Army posted a tweet — a video of Trump stating how he wanted his own military to react if immigrants threw rocks at them.
“Please Watch and Make your Deductions,” the Nigerian Army wrote in the tweet.
Wow, that was fast.
The Nigerian army is using a video of Trump’s speech yesterday – where he said US troops should “consider it a rifle” if migrants throw rocks – to justify its shooting 45 unarmed protesters https://t.co/qnflMuoE5H
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) November 2, 2018
The account has since deleted the tweet. In it, Trump justified shooting rock-throwers.
“Anybody throwing rocks…we will consider that a firearm, because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock,” the president said, per reporting from Newsweek.
Many criticized Trump’s rhetoric for being unnecessarily violent. Some pointed out that it was also illegal — troops are not allowed to use their firearms to respond to a non-lethal incident from others.
Retired Army General Mark Hertling explained it in detail on his Twitter account. “There is no leader in the military – Officer or NCO – who would allow a soldier to shoot at an individual throwing a rock,” he wrote. “They know that violates the rules of engagement, the law of land warfare & the values those in the military believe. It would be an unlawful order.”
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Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.