Twitter placed a warning label on one of Donald Trump‘s tweets, saying that the president was “glorifying violence” by threatening to shoot protesters in Minneapolis. The protesters, who are rallying after an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, 46, died after telling police he couldn’t breathe during an arrest, have taken to the streets of Minnesota’s biggest city to demand justice. Trump’s two tweets about the protesters are shocking, but it’s the second one, in which he says he’ll send the National Guard to attack “thugs” that prompted Twitter to take action. “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” Trump tweeted in the early hours of May 29. “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!”
Twitter kept Trump’s tweet up, but hid it with a warning label. Clicking on the notice leads to Trump’s original tweet with this notice before it: “This tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” It also includes a link to Twitter’s definition of “public interest.” Before his flagged tweet, Trump also wrote, “I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.” Hours after Twitter hid his violent tweet, the White House’s official account shockingly tweeted the same flagged text, word for word, quote retweeting his first message.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison slammed Trump’s tweets, saying that the president is contributing to the “angry cycle” of violence in the Twin Cities. “Calling people thugs and calling on people to get shot stems from the same sort of attitude that resulted in the death of George Floyd,” he said on CBS This Morning on May 29.
Floyd’s May 25 death was caught on camera by a 17-year-old girl, who posted the footage to Facebook. In the video, Floyd, handcuffed on the ground, is clearly gasping for air while a white police officer knelt on his neck. He tells the officer, “Please, I can’t breathe.” The officer appears to keep his knee on an unresponsive Floyd, even as bystanders shout that he isn’t moving, and demand that the three other officers on the scene help him. Floyd later died at the hospital. Since Floyd’s death, the four police officers have been fired but not charged with any crimes. Mayor Frey said at a press conference that being Black “should not be a death sentence.” Celebrities like LeBron James and Kim Kardashian have voiced their support for Floyd and called for justice on social media.
A peaceful protest was planned on May 26 at the Minneapolis intersection where Floyd was attacked, and has continued for the past three days. The protests have turned violent as some demonstrators looted a Target, and some burned down a police precinct. CNN correspondent Oscar Jimenez and his news crew were arrested on May 29, while he was live on air reporting from Minneapolis. He was a released from custody later and back on TV.
Some Twitter users pointed out that Trump was singing a different tune when white protesters stormed the Michigan capital building with guns on May 1, angry about Governor Gretchen Whitmer‘s stay-at-home orders amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire,” he tweeted about Whitmer, whom he’s expressed disdain for. “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 warning label on his recent tweet comes one day after Trump signed an executive order attempting to limit the reach of social media companies that supposedly engage in “censoring” or “political conduct.” Earlier in the week Twitter, for the first time, fact-checked two of his erroneous tweets about voting by mail, causing him to cry that his rights were being violated. As Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY — the president has no authority to regulate social media.