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Politics

Trump’s tweets criticize protesters reacting to death of George Floyd

Demonstrators walk along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington as they protest the death of George Floyd
Demonstrators walk along Pennsylvania Avenue as they protest the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer held him on the ground with his knee pressed against his neck.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

President Trump on Saturday taunted demonstrators who gathered around the White House on Friday night to protest his response to the killing of an unarmed black man by a police officer in Minneapolis, and appeared to encourage his own supporters to gather tonight at the executive mansion.

In a series of tweets criticized for escalating tensions and potentially sparking violence, Trump dismissed the protesters as “professionally managed” and praised the U.S. Secret Service’s response, saying agents and officers handled the situation with restraint.

When protesters “got too frisky or out of line, [agents] would quickly come down on them, hard — didn’t know what hit them. The front line was replaced with fresh agents, like magic. Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence.”

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If demonstrators had gotten onto the White House grounds, the president said, they would have been met by “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.” He said U.S. Secret Service agents and officers, particularly the less experienced ones, relished the chance to engage with protesters. “Many Secret Service agents just waiting for action,” he tweeted, saying he’d been told by Secret Service supervisors, We put the young ones on the front line, sir, they love it, and ... good practice.”

In a separate tweet, he seemed to invite his supporters to show up Saturday night, setting the stage for a possible confrontation with protesters. “Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???” he wrote, referring to his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

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Democrats accused Trump of escalating tensions even as protests erupted nationwide in response to the killing Monday of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Demonstrators marched and clashed with police and damaged property in Los Angeles, Oakland, Louisville, Ky., and Atlanta.

Floyd was killed while handcuffed and lying on the ground as one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck. Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter; charges are expected against the three other officers involved, the county attorney in Minneapolis has said.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat whom Trump attacked Saturday for not doing enough to respond to the protests, said on Twitter her “police department will always protect DC and all who are in it whether I agree with them.”

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While Trump “hides behind his fence afraid/alone,” the mayor added, “I stand w/ people peacefully exercising their First Amendment Right after the murder of #GeorgeFloyd & hundreds of years of institutional racism. There are no vicious dogs & ominous weapons. There is just a scared man. Afraid/alone...”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted: “The occupant of the White House is once again inciting violence. Don’t listen to him.”

On his way to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 sending two astronauts to the International Space Station, Trump told reporters that he was not sure if any of his supporters would show up at the White House. “By the way, they love African American people. They love black people,” he told reporters.

He said local leaders have to get tougher on protesters or U.S. troops might be needed in restive cities. “We have our military ready, willing and able if they ever want to call our military,” Trump said. “We can have troops on the ground very quickly. ... There’s a lot of radical, left bad people, and they’ve got to be taught that you can’t do this,” he said.


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