Donald Trump says spoke to family of man who died in Minneapolis arrest


US President Donald Trump
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said Friday he had expressed condolences to the family of George Floyd, the African American man who died while a policeman kneeled on his neck during an arrest, sparking riots.

"I spoke to members of the family, terrific people," Trump said at the White House.

"I just expressed my sorrow. That was a horrible thing to witness," he said. "They were grieving. I could see very much that they loved their brother."

Trump has been criticized for earlier comments on Twitter that called protesters in Minneapolis "THUGS" and warning that "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."

In his latest comments, Trump said he supported peaceful protests but "we can't allow a situation like happened in Minneapolis to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos."

"I understand the hurt, I understand the pain. People have really been through a lot. The family of George is entitled to justice and the people of Minnesota are entitled to live in safety," he said.

"You had a lot of people out there that were protesting out of sorrow and then you had people that got out of control," he said. "That won't happen again, it can't happen again."

Asked about the racially charged overtones to the phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" -- well known during the tense years of the civil rights era -- Trump said he wasn't aware about the words' origin.

"I've heard that phrase for a long time. I don't know where it came from," Trump said. "I wouldn't know a thing like that."