President Donald Trump on Friday called protesters in Minneapolis “thugs” and vowed that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Trump tweeted after protesters outraged by the death of a black man in police custody torched a police station.
In a response, White House press noted that Trump had decided to question why some platforms were keen on gagging others not to speak their minds.
“Every citizen—liberal, conservative, or otherwise—has a right to be heard and treated fairly online.
Today, President @realDonaldTrump took action to stop political bias in Big Tech from challenging the free exchange of ideas”, White House says in a tweet.
The president also took on Twitter over what he termed as allowing China to propagate lies on the war against COVID-19.
Earlier Thursday, Trump said, “I feel very, very badly” about George Floyd’s death while handcuffed and in the custody of Minneapolis police. “That’s a very shocking sight.”
It was the kind of personal statement expected from a president in response to the disturbing video of a black man gasping for help as a white policeman pinned him to the street by the neck. But it was a very different tone for Trump, who has often been silent in the face of white-on-black violence and has a long history of defending police.
Trump has a long history of injecting himself into racially sensitive cases. In 1989, he took out full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, five young men of color who were wrongly convicted of a brutal assault on a jogger. Trump has never apologized, telling reporters last year: “You have people on both sides of that.”
Trump also spent years railing against NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality. And he has even appeared to advocate for the rougher treatment of people in police custody, speaking dismissively of the police practice of shielding the heads of handcuffed suspects as they are being placed in patrol cars.
Trump and his allies have been even clearer on the death of Floyd, who can be heard and seen on tape pleading that he couldn’t breathe before he slowly stops talking and moving.
Trump “was very upset when he saw that video,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Thursday. “He wants justice to be served.”