Trump retweets video of white St Louis cou­ple point­ing guns at pro­test­ers

The Guardian - - Eyewitness - Martin Pen­gelly and agen­cies New York

Don­ald Trump courted con­tro­versy yes­ter­day – and per­haps sought to de­flect attention from re­ports about Russia plac­ing boun­ties on US sol­diers in Afghanista­n – by retweet­ing news footage of a white cou­ple in St Louis, Mis­souri, who pointed guns at pro­test­ers march­ing for po­lice re­form.

The pres­i­dent’s ac­tion came a day af­ter he retweeted footage of pro­test­ers clash­ing in Florida in which a Trump sup­porter could be heard to say: “White power! White power!” That retweet was deleted from the pres­i­dent’s ac­count af­ter a few hours, a spokesman say­ing Trump had not heard the in­flam­ma­tory words be­fore send­ing the footage.

The pro­test­ers in St Louis were march­ing to the home of the mayor, Lyda Krew­son, to de­mand her res­ig­na­tion. In a Face­book Live brief­ing on Fri­day, Krew­son read the names and ad­dresses of sev­eral res­i­dents who wrote letters sug­gest­ing she de­fund the po­lice de­part­ment. The video was re­moved from Face­book and Krew­son apol­o­gised on Fri­day, stat­ing she did not “in­tend to cause dis­tress”.

On Sun­day evening a group of at least 500 peo­ple headed to­wards the mayor’s home, chant­ing: “Re­sign Lyda, take the cops with you.”

A so­cial me­dia video showed the uniden­ti­fied armed cou­ple stand­ing out­side their home in the Cen­tral West End neigh­bour­hood, shout­ing at pro­test­ers. The man car­ried an as­sault-style ri­fle, the woman a hand­gun. Peo­ple in the march moved the crowd for­ward, urg­ing par­tic­i­pants to ig­nore them. It was not im­me­di­ately clear whether St Louis po­lice were aware of the in­ci­dent.

Krew­son, who is white, was elected as the first fe­male mayor of St Louis in April 2017, pledg­ing to re­duce crime and im­prove im­pov­er­ished neigh­bour­hoods.

The names and ad­dresses Krew­son read out are con­sid­ered pub­lic records but her ac­tions prompted anger. An on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing for her res­ig­na­tion had more than 43,000 sig­na­tures by yes­ter­day morn­ing.

“As a leader, you don’t do stuff like that … it’s only right that we visit her at her home,” said a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Rasheen Aldridge, speak­ing into a mega­phone at the protest on Sun­day.

Trump’s retweet of the video of the St Louis in­ci­dent also came af­ter a gun­man in Louisville, Ken­tucky, shot dead a pho­tog­ra­pher dur­ing protests over the death of Bre­onna Tay­lor, an African Amer­i­can woman killed by po­lice in her own home. A man was charged with the pho­tog­ra­pher’s mur­der.

Trump also retweeted a se­ries of mes­sages seek­ing to iden­tify pro­test­ers in­volved in at­tempts to re­move con­tentious stat­ues of fig­ures from Amer­i­can history.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: LAWRENCE BRYANT/REUTERS

▼ St Louis, Mis­souri A cou­ple draw their guns as a protest against the city’s mayor, Lyda Krew­son, passes their home in Cen­tral West End

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