Trump Defends His Looting Tweet as Cautionary, Not Threatening

May 30, 2020   |   by James G. Dalton

President Donald Trump defended a tweet that appeared to threaten an armed response to violence in Minneapolis after the death of a handcuffed black man in police custody, saying that it was actually a caution about protests getting out of control.

At an evening meeting with business leaders at the White House, Trump tried to explain why he tweeted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The tweet, sent shortly before 1 a.m. Friday, re-ignited a debate over his views on racial issues and social-media conduct.

Trump said he’d heard the phrase used before but didn’t know its origin. “It means when there’s looting, people get shot and they die,” Trump said in response to a reporter’s question. “And that’s the way it was meant.”

The president also said, “I understand the hurt, I understand the pain,” and described how he called the family of George Floyd, the dead man.

Trump’s attempt to contextualize his remarks came after intense criticism of his earlier comments from Democrats and civil-rights advocates.

The tweet echoed a remark made in 1967 by a white Miami police chief when announcing tougher policing policies for the Florida city’s African American neighborhoods.

Twitter Inc. responded by slapping a rule-violation notice on the tweet, saying the message promoted violence. That escalated tension between the social media company and the White House, following Trump’s move Thursday to issue an executive order seeking to curb the social media company’s liability protections.

The president’s effort to cast his tweet in a different light began Friday afternoon, just before an event in the Rose Garden that he billed as a news conference. “Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night,” he said in a new tweet.

Trump didn’t take take questions during the event, but he did later during the meeting with business leaders.

“The looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters,” he said. He added that the demonstrations can’t be allowed the descend into chaos and violence.

“Law and order will prevail,” he said.

The president added that “most policemen — you see the great job they do. They do a fantastic job. But this was a terrible insult to police and the policemen.”

Police in Minneapolis on Friday arrested Derek Chauvin, the officer who was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck during an arrest on Monday. Floyd, who was on the ground and handcuffed at the time, died after saying he couldn’t breathe. The episode prompted a nationwide outcry and set off protests around the country. In Minneapolis, some of those protests turned violent earlier this week, and on Thursday the police stationhouse where Chauvin worked was burned.

Trump’s Democratic rival for the White House, Joe Biden, took up the issue in a speech broadcast live on his website on Friday, assailing the violence and racism faced by African Americans and vowing to fight for racial justice.

“We need to stand up as a nation with the black community, with all minority communities, and come together as one America,” Biden said. “The very soul of America is at stake. We must commit as a nation to pursue justice with every ounce of our being.”

“He is calling for violence against American citizens during a moment of pain for so many. I’m furious, and you should be too,” Biden said of Trump earlier Friday.

Tone Changed

Trump said Thursday he had ordered the FBI to “take a very strong look” at Floyd’s death and that the episode appeared to be “a very bad thing.” But his tone changed early Friday morning after the burning of the stationhouse was broadcast on television. On Twitter he spoke of sending troops to Minneapolis.

Trump’s threat appeared to quote former Miami police chief Walter Headley, whose aggressive policing in black communities led to civil unrest and violence, according to the Miami Herald. In 1967 Headley was quoted by the Herald as saying, “I’ve let the word filter down that when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The American Civil Liberties Union called Trump’s message “hypocritical, immoral and illegal.”

Blaming Democrats, Media

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale responded by accusing Twitter, the news media and Democrats of “twisting” the president’s words “solely for the purpose of political gain, ratings, and cable news profit.”

“A man has died, a police officer is charged with murder, an American city is in chaos, and Democrats and the media see only a political opportunity and a chance to make money,” Parscale said in a statement. “Their behavior is reprehensible and should be roundly condemned by all Americans.”

Trump has in some instances appeared to side with law enforcement in the debate over police use of force, drawing criticism from civil rights activists. Speaking to law enforcement officers on Long Island in 2017, he seemed to favor officers’ showing strength when placing suspects under arrest. “Please don’t be too nice,” he told them.

He’s also criticized black National Football League players for protesting police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the National Anthem before games.

via newsmax

Recent Comments

  1. Dennis

    Reply
    May 30, 2020 @ 3:33 pm

    Most people in this Country are good people. If You do the crime, then fess up and do the time!!! Don’t whine an cry about it. And if they are looting and robbing businesses they should get shot!!!! Robbery’s and looting’s are being done by THUGS!

    • Frances Carlson

      Reply
      May 30, 2020 @ 4:43 pm

      It is my understanding that 5 people were shot. If one wishes to stay away from harm, one should not participate in illegal demonstrations which amount to rioting, looting and arson. This is the wrong way to avenge a needless death. Let the justice system do what they need to do. I have no sympathy for those who wish to take the law into their own hands. The coroner’s office is now saying Floyd didn’t die from strangulation, that he had a pre-existing heart condition. The toxicology report is not in yet, but the gentleman was intoxicated when he was accused of trying to pass counterfeit money. The police were called and from my standpoint, they over reacted. That doesn’t mean all cops are bad or that all white people are racists. I love what Lil Wayne had to say about it.

  2. JDSmith

    Reply
    May 30, 2020 @ 4:45 pm

    Looters are criminals and stops taken as necessary to protect people and property. Sadly due to our global war on terrorism, the 82nd Airborne Division may not be available to assist the National Guard, as was the case when LBJ sent the 82nd to Detroit in 1967!

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