As angry Americans protest the police murder of George Floyd, President Trump falls back on old favorites: threats, hypocrisy, and division

Trump tweets threat of violence
A tweet by President of the United States, Donald Trump, seemingly threatening protesters of George Floyd’s murder with military action.

On Friday, President Trump put down his dog whistle and picked up a bullhorn. In addressing unrest and protest in the murder of George Floyd, Trump tweeted “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that 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!”

The tweet followed protests in Minnesota where 46-year-old George Floyd was killed be police. Protesters on Thursday night set fire to a police station, while some damaged area businesses. The last sentence in his tweet “looting starts, the shooting starts” received particular attention and held deeper racial meaning. It was originally uttered in 1967 by Miami police Chief Walter Headley, as he cracked down on civil rights protesters.

At a press conference later in the day, Friday, Trump tried to clarify his tweet, claiming he was ignorant of the phrase’s origin. “I’ve heard that phrase for a long time. I don’t know where it came from or where it originated… Frankly, it means when there’s looting, people get shot and they die. And if you look at what happened last night and the night before, you see that, it’s very common. And that’s the way that’s meant.”

Despite his explanation, many believe it’s intention was a threat meant to sow division, as Trump often does.

His tweet is also another example of the double standard nature of his presidency. In a January tweet he warned the Iranian government not to harm it’s citizens as they protested the government’s admission that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian flight. “To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!”

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