After igniting a national firestorm of outrage with his appalling remarks on the protests in Minneapolis over yet another police murder of a Black American, President Trump attempted to walk back the worst implications in his “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” tweet.
The president attempted to claim that he simply meant that “looting leads to shooting,” and pointed to several shootings that had occurred at protests as evidence that he was right. He promised that he didn’t “want this to happen” and doubled down on his infuriating demand that we “honor the memory” of George Floyd…by doing nothing and letting his memory fade away.
….It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
This follows a pattern of racist dogwhistle/incendiary remark followed by tame walk back/excuse that we have seen Trump use throughout his presidency, and like all those other times, it’s obviously bullshit.
The statement when the “looting starts, the shooting starts” is in and of itself a racist dog-whistle. The phrase was used by a white Miami police chief in 1967 to describe his preferred method of dealing with crime in black neighborhoods. The phrase was later picked up and used on the campaign trail by notorious segregationist George Wallace.
Trump, who does not read and knows almost nothing about anything, was certainly fed this line from a white supremacist in his circle like Stephen Miller. He and his team knew exactly what he was saying, and we cannot allow him to get away with pretending that he meant something else entirely.
Social media wasn’t buying it one bit:
You rhymed about the extrajudicial killing of Americans.
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) May 29, 2020
thank you sir for saying youll have the military shoot people in order to stop people from being shot
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) May 29, 2020
we all saw the threat you posted last night, homey. but cool revisionism, goofus, the thick-witted dumbs who worship you eat this stuff right up
— Jeff Tiedrich (@itsJeffTiedrich) May 29, 2020
Nah… don’t backtrack now big man
— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) May 29, 2020
"When the looting starts, the shooting starts." ~ George Wallace, 1968
"When the looting starts, the shooting starts." ~ Donald Trump, 2020
Don't ever believe that Trump doesn't know what he's doing.
— Chidi®️ (@ChidiNwatu) May 29, 2020
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.