Trump tries to change tack on shoot­ing threat

Po­lice of­fi­cer charged with mur­der


WASH­ING­TON • U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day tried to walk back a Twit­ter threat to re­spond with deadly force to three days of vi­o­lent protests in Min­neapo­lis over the po­lice killing of an un­armed black man.

“Loot­ing leads to shoot­ing … I don’t want this to hap­pen, and that’s what the ex­pres­sion put out last night means,” Trump said on Twit­ter, hours af­ter the so­cial network for the first time slapped a warn­ing on one of his tweets for “glo­ri­fy­ing vi­o­lence.”

For­mer vice-pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, the pre­sump­tive Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, and some con­gres­sional Democrats de­nounced the ini­tial threat, which warned “when the loot­ing starts, the shoot­ing starts.”

Trump signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der on Thurs­day threat­en­ing new reg­u­la­tions on so­cial me­dia firms.

He re­lies heav­ily on Twit­ter to bring his mes­sage di­rectly to his 80 mil­lion fol­low­ers on the site, but also has re­peat­edly ac­cused it and other so­cial me­dia sites of cen­sur­ing con­ser­va­tives.

Trump, a Repub­li­can who is run­ning for re-elec­tion in Novem­ber, has a his­tory of in­flam­ing racial ten­sions. He blamed “both sides” for vi­o­lence between white su­prem­a­cists and left-wing counter pro­test­ers in Char­lottesvill­e, Va., in 2017 and has called some im­mi­grants cross­ing the U.s.-mex­ico border rapists.

His early Fri­day tweet sug­gested that se­cu­rity forces would open fire on loot­ers to cur­tail un­rest over the death of Ge­orge Floyd, a black man seen on video gasp­ing for breath while a white po­lice of­fi­cer knelt on his neck. The of­fi­cer, Derek Chau­vin, was ar­rested and charged with third-de­gree mur­der and man­slaugh­ter.

Protests over Floyd’s death and other killings like it have spread to cities in­clud­ing Los An­ge­les and Denver, with a protest ex­pected in New York on Fri­day.

Trump said in his tweet: “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!”

The phrase about shoot­ing dates back to U.S. po­lice crack­downs on civil rights in the 1960s.

Democrats ac­cused Trump of mak­ing the sit­u­a­tion worse.

“This is no time for in­cen­di­ary tweets. It’s no time to en­cour­age vi­o­lence,” Bi­den said in re­marks streamed on­line. “This is a na­tional cri­sis and we need real lead­er­ship right now. Lead­er­ship that will bring ev­ery­one to the ta­ble so that we can take mea­sures to root out sys­temic racism.”

Twit­ter’s de­ci­sion to at­tach a warn­ing to Trump’s tweet es­ca­lates a feud between Trump and tech com­pa­nies.

Trump threat­ened new reg­u­la­tion on in­ter­net com­pa­nies and called on Congress to re­voke a law, known as Sec­tion 230, that pro­tects on­line plat­forms from law­suits over con­tent.

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