Trump defends 'looting starts, shooting starts' tweet, says only haters will have problem with his words

Though the president said he did not know the origin of his tweet, it was learnt that a hardliner Miami top cop had said the same words over five decades ago

                            Trump defends 'looting starts, shooting starts' tweet, says only haters will have problem with his words
(Getty Images)

As Minneapolis continues to burn over the protests against the brutal killing of George Floyd on Monday, May 25, at the hands of the city police, President Donald Trump fuelled the situation further by posting a controversial tweet saying "when looting starts, shooting starts". While Twitter, with whom the president is in the middle of an ugly fight, hid the tweet, the president defended it on Friday, May 29, saying he didn't know the words had racist origins. 

In a couple of tweets on Friday afternoon, the president threatened to deploy the National Guard to tame the demonstrators in Minneapolis who he described as "THUGS". He then said "when looting starts, shooting starts" and it was flagged by Twitter as a contravention of its rule against the glorification of violence. Trump later defended the "when looting starts, shooting starts" statement saying: "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 was meant." He added, "But I don't know where it came from, I don't know where it originated," after facing a backlash.

He tweeted, "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...." In another tweet he said, "....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!"

Trump's notorious phrase has a history

The phrase, however, has a history that dates back five decades. In 1967, as armed robberies spiked in Miami’s black neighborhoods, then police chief of the city Walter Headley held a news conference in which he declared war on the criminals. The hardliner warned that the police would use shotguns and dogs at his command and said: "I've let the word filter down that when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

Demonstrators continue to protest the death of George Floyd following a night of rioting on May 29, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Getty Images)

Trump did not answer questions on Floyd’s death at the afternoon 'news conference' in the Rose Garden, including the query about whether he was planning to visit Minneapolis and about his controversial tweet. However, he appeared at another event — a coronavirus business meet in the State Dining Room — where he spoke on the Floyd death issue and the protests against it. He called the deceased black man’s family “terrific” and called the death a “terrible event”. He also warned the protesters who have set various parts of Minneapolis on fire. "It's very important that we have peaceful protesters and support the rights for peaceful protesters. We can’t allow a situation like what happened in Minneapolis to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos and we understand that very well," Trump said. He seemed to say Indianapolis in place of Minneapolis when naming the city where Floyd was killed, Daily Mail reported. 

"It's very important I believe to the family to everybody that the memory of George Floyd be a perfect memory, let it be a perfect memory. The looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters,” Trump said, adding the White House is working closely with the justice department and Minnesota’s local law enforcement and sympathized with Minneapolis’ mayor Jacob Frey saying the latter "was in a tough position". The police officer who forced his knee against Floyd's neck for several minutes after pinning him to the ground, Derek Chauvin, meanwhile, has been arrested and charged with murder, officials said on Friday. The man had several complaints against him during his service years completing nearly two decades. 

“It’s a horrible, horrible situation and so we’ll be reporting back in due course and as quickly as possible,” the president said before shifting to coronavirus which has claimed over 100,000 lives in the US. He was meeting business leaders to talk about reopening certain sectors of the country’s economy amid the pandemic. Trump lost Minnesota to Hillary Clinton by less than 2 percent votes in the 2016 presidential election. 

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