Trump said that violent protesters are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, the African-American man who died in police custody earlier this week.
“The violence and vandalism is being led by Antifa and other radical left-wing groups who are terrorizing the innocent, destroying jobs, hurting business and burning down buildings.”
“The main victims of this horrible, horrible situation are the citizens who live in these once lovely communities,” the president said, adding that the United States “needs creation, not destruction.”
Vowing to put an end to “mob violence,” Trump railed against what he described as “radical-left criminals,” stating that “the rule of law and our independent system of justice” need to be protected at all costs. Trump also said that “the overwhelming majority of police officers” were upset with what happened in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The president added that the Department of Justice is coordinating with local law enforcement to end the riots. He delivered the remarks in Florida, after attending the historic launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.
In his remarks, Trump echoed Attorney General William Barr. Earlier in the day, Barr accused”far-left” groups of instigating violence, saying that many of the protesters are traveling from state to state.
“In many places it appears the violence is planned, organized and driven by anarchic and far-left extremist groups using Antifa-like tactics.”
As Newsweek noted, Antifa is ostensibly not an organization with a hierarchical structure, claiming to be a group of loosely-connected chapters of anti-fascist activists. Trump and his Republican allies have previously made attempts to crack down on Antifa, with Sen. Ted Cruz describing it as a terrorist organization.
In July 2019, the commander-in-chief floated the idea of officially classifying Antifa as a terrorist organization, but he has not yet done so.
President Trump: "These people this Antifa, it's a lot of radical left bad people, and they've got to be taught that you can't do this." pic.twitter.com/n6aep8dKuo— The Hill (@thehill) May 30, 2020
Opposing reports assert that white supremacist groups have been trying to instigate violence. Multiple far-right groups have reportedly been instructing their members to travel to Minneapolis, infiltrate protest movements, and cause mayhem.
According to John Harrington, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Safety, Minneapolis officials are “contact tracing” arrested protesters to determine whether they have connections to white supremacist groups.
Trump has repeatedly called for an end to violence, threatening federal action. Earlier today, the president warned Democratic mayors and governors across the nation that the federal government — and the military — will get involved if they don’t put an end to the riots.