Trump on Minneapolis unrest: ‘Looters should not be allowed to drown out voices of so many peaceful protesters’
President Trump weighed in on the unrest in Minnesota following the death of George Floyd, saying Friday that “the looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters.”
“The rights of peaceful protesters are very important but we can’t allow the situation to descend further into lawless chaos,” Trump continued. “It is very important, I believe, to the family, to everybody, that the memory of George Floyd be a perfect memory.”
The president said his administration is working closely with the Justice Department (DOJ) and speaking with Floyd’s family to investigate the case. “I understand the hurt, I understand the pain. The family of George is entitled to justice and the people of Minnesota are entitled to safety,” Trump added. “It’s a horrible situation, we’ll be reporting back.”
Trump’s remarks come after he sought to clarify what he meant in a tweet Thursday night about the unrest in Minneapolis after Twitter flagged it and claimed he was “glorifying violence.”
“Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot,” Trump tweeted Friday. “I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means. It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement.”
“It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!” the president added.
Trump announced Wednesday night that he had ordered the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate the killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd, calling it a “very sad and tragic death,” but the president also expressed outrage about the protests that followed.
“I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.
A second tweet continued: “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let this happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you.”
A few hours after the president sent those tweets, Twitter added a disclaimer onto the second tweet, which hides the message until users click “view.”
“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” the disclaimer reads.
Critics on Twitter said Trump’s comments had racial undertones and said the term “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” can be traced back to Miami Police Chief Walter Headley in 1967 as a threat to black protesters during the civil rights movement. Twitter also pointed to the “historical context” of the remark as grounds for its classification as “glorifying violence.”
Floyd, 46, was pronounced dead Monday night after Minnesota Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck after putting him in handcuffs, as Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe. Three other officers stood by, and all four of them have been fired from the force. Chauvin was taken into custody on Friday and charged with third-degree murder.
Three days of protests have taken place across the state, with one man shot dead on Wednesday, stores looted empty and a police precinct set on fire. Other cities across the nation have organized their own protests. In New York City, 40 protesters were arrested Thursday and four NYPD officers were injured and transported to local hospitals as a result of the demonstrations.
Meanwhile, demonstrations in Louisville, Ky., took place Thursday night to protest the death of Breonna Taylor, a black woman shot in her home in March. During the demonstrations, seven were shot, one critically, as between 500 and 600 protesters took to the streets to seek justice for Taylor.