Transcript for Esper calls for accountability in Floyd ‘murder’
Over the past couple days there's been a fair share of reporting. Some good some bad. About what is transferring transpiring in our great nation. And the role department defense and its leaders. I want to take a few minutes to address these issues in person. To make clear the facts and offer my views. First. Let me say up front. The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police man is a horrible crime. The officers on the scene that they should be held accountable for his murder. It's a tragedy. That we've seen repeat itself. Too many times. With great sympathy. I want to extend. Deepest of condolences. The family and friends. Of George Floyd from me and the department. Racism is real and America. And we must all do our very best to recognize it to confront it and to eradicate it. I've always been proud to be a member of an institution. United states military that embraces diversity. And inclusion. And prohibits hate and discrimination in all forms. More often than not we have lead on these issues. And while we still have much to do on this front. Leaders across DOD and the services take this responsibility seriously. And we are determined to make a difference. Every member this department has sworn an oath to uphold and defend the constitution. Of the United States of America. I've taken this oath many times. Beginning at the age of eighteen when I entered West Point. The rights that are embedded in this great document began with the First Amendment. Which guarantees the five freedoms of speech. Religion. Press assembly. And the right to petition the government. The united states military is sworn to defend these and all other rights. And we encourage Americans at all times to exercise them peacefully. It is these rights and freedoms that make our country so special. And it is these rights and freedoms. That American service members are willing to fight and die for. At times however. United states military is asked in support of governors and law enforcement. To help maintain law and order so that other Americans can exercise their rights free from violence. Against themselves. Or their property. That is what thousands of Guardsmen. Are doing today in cities across America. Is not something we seek to do. But it is our duty. And we do with the utmost skill and professionalism. Cars Mott reminded of that Monday as I visited our national Guardsmen who were on duty. Monday night protecting our most hallowed grounds and monuments. I'm very proud of men and women of the National Guard who are out on the streets today performing. This important task. And in many ways that the risk of their own welfare. I've always believed in continue to believe. That the National Guard is best suited for performing domestic support to some civil authorities and these situations. In support of local law enforcement. I say this not only as secretary defense but also is a former soldier. And a former member of the National Guard. The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort. And only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the insurrection act.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.