Donald Trump has addressed the uproar over his tweets amid the Minnesota protests that suggested ”when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.
The president sparked a fury of backlash over tweets that seemingly suggested protesters should be shot in Minneapolis for the rioting, looting, and arson that took place following the death of George Floyd.
“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. I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means,” Mr Trump wrote on Friday.
His tweet went on to state: “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. Honour the memory of George Floyd!”
Twitter labelled a tweet by the president on late Thursday evening as “glorifying violence” after Mr Trump denounced protesters in Minneapolis who were acting violently.
In two tweets, the president called the protesters “thugs” before stating that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. Outrage quickly mounted following the tweets, as people expressed concerns the president’s words could further incite violence instead of helping to defuse the situation.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said in a press conference on Friday that Mr Trump’s tweets were not helpful to the situation.
“It was unnecessary,” Mr Walz said. “I didn’t know he’s going to tweet, he certainly can... It’s just not helpful.” The governor added the tweets just “added fuel to the fire” of an already volatile situation developing in Minneapolis.
The White House defended the president after his tweets sparked backlash, saying Mr Trump meant to defuse violence instead of incite it. The official White House Twitter page went on to repost Mr Trump’s controversial “shooting” tweet, which also was flagged by Twitter.
Mr Trump’s “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” is not original. The statement was reportedly first made by Miami police Chief Walter Headley in 1967.
The police chief was head of the force for 20 years and had a history of “bigotry against the black community,” professor Clarence Lusane of Howard University told NPR.
The quote in question happened when Mr Headley was defending his “get tough” policy and said he and his department ”don’t mind being accused of police brutality”.
It has been not made clear if Mr Trump knows the history of the quote or what he intended to portray when using it.
Mr Trump tried to use his Twitter account on Friday to defuse the situation. Moments after writing the tweets, the president spoke to press in the Rose Garden of the White House about China. It was expected for the president to address the situation in Minneapolis and take questions from reporters, but he left the garden following his statement.
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