Trump says he spoke to George Floyd's familyby Morgan Chalfant
President Trump said Friday afternoon that he spoke to the family of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died during a police arrest in Minneapolis earlier this week.
Trump called Floyd’s death a “terrible thing” and said he was “determined that justice be served” in remarks at the beginning of a White House roundtable event on reopening the economy following the coronavirus outbreak.
“We all saw what we saw,” the president said, referring to bystander video capturing the moments leading up to Floyd’s death that prompted widespread outrage in Minneapolis and across the country. “Should never be allowed to happen, a thing like that.”
“I understand the hurt, I understand the pain. People have really been through a lot,” Trump later added. “The family of George is entitled to justice and the people of Minnesota are entitled to live in safety. Law and order will prevail. Americans will honor the memory of Floyd.”
Trump’s somber remarks followed a day of controversy including over tweets he sent overnight criticizing protesters and Minneapolis’s Democratic mayor. Trump called the protesters “thugs” and appeared to threaten military intervention in the state. Twitter later added a warning label to his tweet, noting it violated their policies by “glorifying violence.”
“Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way,” the president wrote early Friday morning. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Trump, who later pushed back on characterizations that he was inciting violence, said in remarks at the roundtable that it was important to support the rights of “peaceful” protesters but warned against violent protests. Demonstrations have broken out across the country following Floyd’s death, some growing violent.
“The looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of the peaceful protesters,” Trump said Friday. “So bad for the state and that great city.”
Floyd died on Monday after being pinned to the ground by a police officer who knelt on his neck. The officers involved in the incident were fired and Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, was charged with murder and manslaughter Friday afternoon.
Trump has ordered the FBI and Justice Department to expedite an investigation into Floyd’s death in addition to the local investigation into the incident.
“The Department of Justice, including the FBI, are conducting an independent investigation to determine whether any federal civil rights laws were violated,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement Friday.
“Both state and federal officers are working diligently and collaboratively to ensure that any available evidence relevant to these decisions is obtained as quickly as possible,” Barr said.