Donald Trump said nothing about the growing unrest in Minneapolis during a live press conference on Friday, delivering remarks about Hong Kong and leaving without answering questions from reporters as they asked him to speak about the protests.
Trump weighed in overnight on the Minneapolis protests that took place over the past several days and grew increasingly violent. As protesters swarmed the police department’s 3rd Precinct building, where the officers involved in the death of George Floyd were stationed, and set it on fire, Trump fired off a tweet threatening to shoot protesters who acted out violently.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” Trump wrote. “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!”
But Trump made no comment about any of the unrest on Friday, even as several reporters shouted questions and asked for his thoughts. He also made no mention of the coronavirus crisis, speaking only about Hong Kong and the apparent power grab from China in a press conference where he arrived close to an hour late. He then left without answering reporters who asked about Minneapolis.
Trump had come under fire for the apparent threat of violence and the use of the term “thugs” in his original tweet, which critics said carried racial undertones.
The message also drew pushback from Twitter, which hid the tweet and covered it with a message saying that it violated the site’s rules against glorifying violence. Trump had clashed with Twitter earlier in the week after the site used its first-ever fact check on a tweet from Trump claiming that mail-in voting was ripe for fraud.
President Trump says nothing about Minnesota as the nation is on edge and leaves the Rose Garden without taking questions.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) May 29, 2020
Some believed that Trump’s silence on Floyd’s killing or the arrest of officer Derek Chauvin earlier on Friday afternoon was by design. Chauvin was seen on video with his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck as the detained man pleaded that he could not breathe.
“Remember: Trump wants us to be outraged that he did not say anything about George Floyd, the Minneapolis protests, or the Americans dying in a pandemic,” tweeted Mother Jones writer David Corn. “He does this on purpose. He is conveying a message to the people he considers his voters.”
Trump, earlier in the week, had spoken out about Floyd’s killing, calling the video of the actions that led to his death “a very shocking sight.”