- President Donald Trump discussed the death of George Floyd and the rioting across the country on Saturday, in his remarks from Florida for SpaceX’s launch of two NASA astronauts.
- Trump said Floyd’s death was “a grave tragedy” and “should never have happened.”
- He also blamed violence and riots on Antifa and “radical left-wing groups,” and vowed to “stop mob violence, and we’ll stop it cold.”
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President Donald Trump on Saturday issued lengthy remarks on George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who was killed on Monday when police officer knelt on his neck for roughly eight minutes. He condemned Floyd’s death, and vowed to stop the “mob violence” that has plagued the country in recent days.
“The death of George Floyd in the streets of Minneapolis was a grave tragedy. It should never have happened. It has filled Americans all over the country with horror, anger, and grief,” Trump said.
Trump made the remarks from Cape Canaveral, Florida, where SpaceX launched two NASA astronauts into orbit. The event came amid days of protests and violent riots in cities across the country that resulted in hundreds of arrests, clashes between police and protesters, burnt buildings and vehicles, and prompted governors to call in the National Guard.
"The death of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis was a grave tragedy. It should never have happened. It has filled Americans all over the country with horror, anger, and grief." pic.twitter.com/lirAMSv4Wo
— The White House 45 Archived (@WhiteHouse45) May 30, 2020
On Friday, Minnesota authorities arrested the police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, and charged him with third-degree murder and manslaughter. But Floyd’s family, and many of the protesters, argued that the charges weren’t strong enough, and demanded that the three other officers involved in Floyd’s death be charged too.
During his remarks from Florida on Saturday, Trump said he had spoken with Floyd’s family “and expressed the sorrow of our entire nation for their loss.” Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, later told MSNBC the conversation was “so fast” and that Trump didn’t give him an opportunity to speak.
Trump blamed Antifa and ‘other radical left-wing groups’ for the riots
Trump noted that his administration had opened a civil rights investigation into Floyd’s death, and added that he had requested the Justice Department expedite it.
But Trump condemned the rioting, blaming Antifa and “other radical left-wing groups who are terrorizing the innocent, destroying jobs, hurting businesses, and burning down buildings.”
He also accused the rotes of dishonoring Floyd’s memory.
“What we are seeing now on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with justice or with peace,” Trump said. “Those making excuses or justification for violence are not helping the downtrodden, but delivering new anguish and new pain.”
He continued: “My administration will stop mob violence, and we’ll stop it cold. It does not serve the interests of justice or any citizen of any race, colour, or creed for the government to give in to anarchy, abandon police precincts, or allow communities to be burned to the ground. It won’t happen.”
Trump has faced criticism for threatening violence against the rioters. On Saturday, he tweeted that if protesters had breached the White House fence, “they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least.”
On Friday, Trump also tried to walk back a tweet threatening that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The phrase had previously been used by a white police chief urging violence against civil rights protesters, but Trump said he only meant that sometimes looters also shoot guns.
- Read more:
- US Attorney General says peaceful George Floyd protests are ‘being hijacked by violent radical elements,’ calls for ‘law and order on our streets’
- Photos show the George Floyd protests across US cities that sparked curfews, states of emergency and National Guard deployments
- ‘If it wasn’t for me 4 cops would have still had their jobs’: Teen who recorded George Floyd’s arrest defends herself against online backlash
- A Tennessee police chief had a message for fellow law enforcement: turn in your badge if ‘you don’t have an issue’ with George Floyd’s death