700 paratroopers ‘issued bayonets’ as 82nd Airborne prepares to carry out ‘Operation Themis’ at #DCprotests: report
Washington DC protesters blocked by military (Photo: Screen capture)

President Donald Trump's controversial decision to use the United States military against civil rights protesters in Washington, DC could escalate after airborne troops from Fort Bragg were staged outside the capital.

"Aircraft flying over DCA last night in a show of force against #GeorgeFloyd protesters were ordered by President [Trump] - US forces in DC are operating under an official mission: Operation Themis—Greek mythology, Themis = divine law & order," Associated Press correspondent James LaPorta reported Tuesday.

"Also: 700 members of the 82nd are at Joint Base Andrews and Fort Belvoir. 1,400 more soldiers are ready to be mobilized within an hour. Soldiers are armed and have riot gear. They also were issued bayonets—standard issue but some feel could be inflammatory," he explained. "Some context: they were issued to the members of the 82nd deploying to Washington, D.C. - they were told to pack them in their backpacks. Members I spoke said bayonets are always on their packing list but given the context of the protests, it could be perceived in a bad light."