President Donald Trump cannot by himself authorize the U.S. military to take action in New York state, officials on Monday said, as violent demonstrations and unrest continued in some areas.
New York City is expected to extend its curfew into a second night following looting in some areas of the city.
In Buffalo, a police officer and state trooper were hit by a car during a protest Monday evening, seriously injuring them both.
And in Washington, D.C., the military used tear gas and rubber bullets to push back demonstrators outside of the White House. The president then briefly left the White House grounds and posed in front of St. John's Episcopal Church with a bible.
Trump earlier in the day had urged governors and locally elected leaders in a conference call to take a firmer hand against protesters and said he would send the U.S. military to help quell the unrest.
Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement she would challenge that move.
“The President of the United States is not a dictator, and President Trump does not and will not dominate New York state. In fact, the president does not have the right to unilaterally deploy U.S. military across American states," James said. "We respect and will guard the right to peaceful protest, and my office will review any federal action with an eye toward protecting our state’s rights. Rest assured: We will not hesitate to go to court to protect our constitutional rights during this time and well into the future.”
James is investigating the demonstrations and the police response, with a report due in 30 days.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, said in an interview on CNN the president's actions were shocking.
"Deluding the criminal activity is intolerable, and from a law enforcement point of view you need to weed them out, but they are intermingled with the protesters," Cuomo said.
"But what the president today did was he called out the American military against American citizens," he added. "That's what they did. They used the American military to push back a peaceful protest, which everyone watched on TV, just so he could have a photo-op of walking to a church. When was the last time you saw the American military called out against Americans?"
Cuomo has said the New York National Guard is on "standby" but those units are yet to be deployed to aid with efforts to stop the unrest.
New York officials on Monday had previously announced more police and law enforcement personnel would be added for New York City to help stop the violence.