WASHINGTON D.C. (NBC News) – As protests raged Thursday overnight on the streets of Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd in police custody, President Trump touched off a controversy of his own.
The president tweeted, “these thugs are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd” adding “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Twitter slapped the tweet with a warning label, saying it violates company policy by glorifying violence.
Twitter referenced the historical context: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” was a phrase used by a 1960’s Miami police chief who has been denounced as racist.
President Trump later claimed he was relating a simple fact that looting leads to shooting, referencing recent shootings amid unrest in Minneapolis and Louisville.
The president took no questions at what was supposed to be an afternoon press conference.
It comes a day after he signed an executive order aimed at stripping legal protections from social media companies if they appear to take political sides over content posted on their sites.
President Trump’s Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, weighed in saying “This is no time for incendiary tweets. This is no time to encourage violence. This is a national crisis and we need real leadership right now.”
Others pointed out how President Trump is calling Minnesota protesters “thugs” while he backed some of the most extreme opponents of coronavirus lockdowns, who were mainly white and often heavily armed.