Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that he opposes invoking the centuries-old Insurrection Act to allow President Trump to tap the U.S. military and help stanch unrest sweeping the nation. 

"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 situations," Esper said. "We are not in one of those situations."

Most Americans sympathize with the protesters and disapprove of President Donald Trump’s hard line against the sometimes-violent demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd, the African American man killed in a confrontation with Minneapolis police last week, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Protests in most major cities Tuesday night were relatively calm. Many cities intensified their curfews: Authorities in New York and Washington, D.C., ordered people off streets while it was still daylight. In Los Angeles, embattle Police Chief Michel Moore is facing calls to resign for saying Floyd's death is "on the hands" of those encouraging criminal acts at protests. 

At least 9,300 people have been arrested in protests around the country, according to a tally by the Associated Press. Los Angeles has recorded 2,700 arrests, followed by New York with about 1,500. 

A closer look at some recent developments:

Roxie Washington, the mother of Floyd's daughter, gave her first public comments since his death. She tearfully lamented that he'll miss their 6-year-old's future milestones, such as graduating and getting married. A California police officer is on leave and under investigation after viral videos show his 'disturbing' behavior and misconduct towards protesters in San Jose. Six Atlanta police officers are facing charges over an incident caught on video where they are seen using stun guns and forcefully removing two college students from a car.

Remembering George Floyd: Memorial services, funeral to be held in Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas.

Our live blog will be updated throughout the day. For first-in-the-morning updates, sign up for the Daily Briefing. Here's the latest news:

Defense secretary opposes use of military to quell unrest

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday he does not support use the U.S. military for domestic law enforcement to quell violence erupting at some protests. Esper, speaking at a news conference, said the National Guard is "best suited" for supporting local law enforcement. Governors in more than half the states have called up their National Guards, and more than 20,000 guard members have been called to duty. 

Esper described Floyd's death as a "horrible crime" but said he does not support invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 to override bans on the use of the military on U.S. soil. 

Ex-President George W. Bush: Injustice and fear 'suffocate out country'

Former President George W. Bush is calling for peace and empathy following the "brutal suffocation" of George Floyd. In a rare public statement, Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush were "anguished" by Floyd's death and "disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country." Bush said they had "resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen." 

Bush, who has been critical of Trump, did not mention the current president by name but said, "The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America – or how it becomes a better place." 

– William Cummings

Lawsuit: Minnesota officers' treatment of journalists 'tramples Constitution'

Police in Minnesota violated journalists' constitutional rights when officers pepper sprayed, fired rubber bullets at or otherwise attacked, injured or arrested members of the press covering recent protests, a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges. The suit claims that a pattern of attacks on journalists carried out by the Minneapolis Police Department and the Minnesota State Patrol "tramples on the Constitution."

Jared Goyette, the named plaintiff in the suit, is a freelance journalist who says police shot him in the face with a less-lethal ballistic ammunition a week ago. The police and State Patrol did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

– Ryan W. Miller

Chicago eases restrictions, opens up downtown

The city began returning to normal on Wednesday as drawbridges to downtown lowered, restaurants reopened and parking regulations were again enforced. Authorities had effectively isolated downtown from the rest of the city by raising the bridges and posting police and national guardsmen at checkpoints, but those had been removed as of Wednesday morning. Although there were scattered reports of looting across the city, things appear to have calmed significantly, especially as light rain fell as the day dawned.

Like many cities, Chicago was dealing with a double whammy of coronavirus and protests, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said business owners felt strongly that reopening on Wednesday was the right thing to do.

– Trevor Hughes

LA mayor backs police chief amid calls to fire him

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed confidence in Police Chief Michel Moore, despite Moore's comments equating looters to the police officers responsible for the death of George Floyd. Moore has apologized and is fending off calls for his firing after likening looters in the city to those responsible for George Floyd's death.

"We didn't have people mourning the death of this man, George Floyd," Moore said Monday. "We had people capitalizing. His death is on their hands, as much as it is those officers."

On Tuesday, more than 1,000 protesters marched through the streets of Hollywood, and several hundred demonstrated downtown, at times kneeling en masse and at others calling for Moore's resignation. Moore tweeted out an apology and reiterated his regret at a Police Commission meeting on