For roughly a week now, American citizens have been taking to the streets to protest the prevalent atmosphere of police brutality in the United States. This civic outpouring was prompted by the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police.
The homicidal incident was caught on video and shows Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he begs for him to stop and tells him he can’t breathe. Throughout the disturbing video, the other police officers just stand by, refusing to intervene.
Demonstrating a restraint that so many cops clearly lack, the protestors have been almost universally peaceful. The state, in turn, has met these protests with a truly shocking wave of violence across the country as cops beat, tear-gas, pepper spray, and fire rubber bullets at innocent demonstrators. In doing so, the police have inadvertently made the protestors’ point for them: our law enforcement forces desperately need comprehensive reform.
Throughout it all, Donald Trump has refused to step up and lead. He knows that siding with Black Lives Matter advocates will alienate him to the racist bloc within his voting base, so instead he has leaned into his authoritarian tendencies and told police to “dominate” the streets, resulting in even more acts of violence and further reinforcing the need for more protests. Trump has proven himself to be uniquely, almost unimaginably, unsuited for the current moment.
During a press conference in the Rose Garden today, Trump showed how fundamentally he misunderstands the current crisis. After bragging about a May jobs reports which showed a decrease in unemployment as 2.5 million jobs were added to the economy and some disingenuous, boilerplate comments about equal justice under the law, the president said that George Floyd might be looking down happy.
“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying: ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day,” said the president.
It really should go without saying but unemployment numbers have absolutely nothing to do with George Floyd being murdered by a policing superstructure that values the lives of people of color less than those of white people. Adding jobs to the economy doesn’t put an end to police brutality and it certainly doesn’t bring back those killed at the hands of law enforcement. It’s jaw-dropping that such a statement would come out of the mouth of the President of the United States.
I had to clip this because it is unbelievable. President @realDonaldTrump just said this: “Hopefully, George is looking down right and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. It’s a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody.” #GeorgeFloyd pic.twitter.com/6CbGoLJrRg
— Vladimir Duthiers (@vladduthiersCBS) June 5, 2020
When asked by reporters how the economy could possibly fix systemic racism, Trump grew irritated and blew them off. The simple fact is that not only does he have no plan to tackle the problem of racist institutions, he has no interest in the topic. Come November, he has to go.
Trump says his "plan" for systemic racism is a strong economy: "We had the strongest economy anywhere in the world, and now we're going to have an economy that's even stronger."
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 5, 2020
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Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.