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Protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis

Donald Trump on Friday called protesters in Minneapolis "thugs" as they demanded justice for a black man killed after being manhandled by a police officer, and threatened to shoot the protesters who were rioting in the streets.

"These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. 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!" Trump tweeted in the early hours of Friday morning. Twitter deemed the comment to violate its policy against glorifying violence, and limited access to the tweet.


Trump's comments are a far cry from how he has described white protesters who carried dangerous weapons, yelled in the face of law enforcement and journalists, and even chanted anti-Semitic statements.

On May 1, Trump praised a group of protesters in Michigan who were armed with assault rifles and carrying signs with violent and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

"The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire," Trump tweeted of the protesters, who were demanding a reopening of the state economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal."

The rhetoric from those protesters was so violent that Facebook removed a group organizing a similar protest, as they were calling for violence against Michigan's Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, including calls to "hang, behead, shoot, and beat" her, according to the MetroTimes, a Detroit news outlet.

In fact, Trump has egged on similar protests calling on governors to reopen the government in the wake of the coronavirus, even though those protests have gotten increasingly violent and ugly.

At a protest on Long Island on May 14, protesters held a sign that read, "Hang Fauci. Hang Gates. Open all our states."

Trump also seemed to condone a protester who got in the face of a journalist who was simply reporting on the protest, retweeting a video of the incident with the comment, "people can't get enough of this. Great people!"

Trump also infamously praised the white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, who were protesting the removal of Confederate monuments.

He said there were "very fine people" among the crowd of white supremacists, who chanted "blood and soil" and "you will not replace us" — which are white supremacist and anti-Semitic statements.

One of the protesters even drove his car through a crowd of peaceful, anti-racism counter-protesters, killing one woman.

In 2019, Trump defended his comments, which were widely condemned by people on all sides of the political spectrum.

"If you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly," Trump said in April 2019 of his "very fine people" comment. "And I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Photo by Mike MacKenzie

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

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