US president Donald Trump has shared an interview in which conservative activist Candace Owens describes George Floyd as a symbol of a “broken culture in black America today” and insists that “he was not a good person”.
Mr Floyd died last month in Minneapolis after a police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to the neck for nearly nine minutes. The killing has sparked days of protests across the US against racism and police brutality, and also demonstrations around the world.
But as the Black Lives Matters movement runs into its 12th consecutive day, with demonstrators calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism, Ms Owens said she had been left ‘sickened’ by the “fact that he [Mr Floyd] has been held up as a martyr”.
In an interview with radio host Glenn Beck, who posted it to Twitter before it was retweeted by President Trump, Ms Owen said: “George Floyd was not a good person. I don’t care who wants to spin that, I don’t care how CNN wants to make you think that he had just turned his life around.”
“The fact that he has been held up as a martyr sickens me.”
Ms Owens said that Mr Floyd had served five stints in jail, adding: “Was he really going to turn things around? It’s just not true.”
In posting the interview to his Twitter account, Mr Beck said: “I don’t care WHAT George Floyd did. The officer should have never treated him like that and killed him! But we still must ask: Is he a HERO?”
Mr Trump retweeted the post without comment.
On Friday, the president was subject to widespread condemnation for invoking Mr Floyd’s name as he touted US jobs figures, saying the 46-year-old father of five was “looking down” and “saying this is a great day”. He also suggested a “strong” economy would help repair racial tensions.
Joe Biden, who has now formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, was one of many politicians to speak out against Mr Trump over his remarks.
The Democrat said the president “was speaking of a man who was brutally killed by an act of needless violence, and by a larger tide of injustice that has metastasised on this president’s watch has moved to split us based on race, religion, ethnicity.”
“George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe’, have echoed all across this nation and, quite frankly, around the world,” he said from Delaware State University on Friday. “For the president to try and put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd I think quite frankly is despicable.”
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