Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot offered a scathing rebuke of President Trump Friday after Trump said he wouldn’t let “THUGS” dishonor the memory of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who was seen on a disturbing video begging for air as a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes until his body went limp.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
Twitter has since hidden the president’s tweet and put a warning label on it saying that it “glorifies violence.”
….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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Lightfoot said Trump’s comments were “profoundly dangerous” and that people must “say this is totally unacceptable no matter who is the speaker.”
“He wants to show failures on the part of Democratic local leaders to throw red meat to his base. His goal is to polarize, to destabilize local government and inflame racist urges. And we can absolutely not let him prevail,” Lightfoot said.
“Donald Trump’s comment last night was profoundly dangerous,” she added. “And we must stand firm in solidarity and say this is totally unacceptable no matter who the speaker is. And we see the game he is playing. Because he’s transparent and he’s not very good at it. And I will code what I really want to say to Donald Trump. It begins with an F and it ends with a U.”
Here's the video of Mayor Lightfoot responding to Trump.
— 😷🏘Derrick Clifton (@DerrickClifton) May 29, 2020
The mayor said she watched in horror as not only the events unfolded in Minneapolis but as the president tweeted a threat to shoot protesters.
Lightfoot said video of Floyd’s death brought the death of Laquan McDonald, a Chicago teen who was fatally shot 16 times by a police officer in 2014, back into focus.
“It’s been a painful reminder that while we have been focused on fighting this violence, we know our work and facing hard truths about Mr. Floyd, and I think about my brothers and men in my family,” she said that afternoon.
When a reporter invoked the words of former first lady Michelle Obama, when she said, “When they go low, we go high,” Lightfoot responded: “I’m not Michelle Obama.”
“I will not remain silent while this man cynically tries to turn this incredibly painful moment into one for his own political gain.”
Lightfoot was asked whether she’s concerned about the president withholding federal assistance to Chicago after her harsh rebuke, Lightfoot replied: “What I’m concerned about is the president of the United States using his bully pulpit to foment violence. That’s what I’m concerned about. There’s no other way that you can read that tweet than fomenting, encouraging violence against residents in a city or in cities across the country who are expressing themselves and exercising their First Amendment rights.”
“Nobody is gonna sit and condone looting and violence. But to blanketly say as the president of the United States that you’re encouraging people to be shot in the street? That’s what I’m concerned about and, frankly, everyone should be concerned about that. That’s not leadership. That’s cowardice. That’s playing to a base with the biggest dog whistle possible.”
At the time of Trump’s tweet, the Minneapolis National Guard had already been activated by the state’s governor, Tim Walz.
The police officer seen on video kneeling on the neck of Floyd was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter hours later.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., blasted the president for using the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
The phrase was used by Miami’s police chief, Walter Headley, in 1967, when he addressed his department’s crackdown on “slum hoodlums” who he claimed were taking advantage of the civil rights movement. Headley was denounced by civil rights leaders at the time and called a racist by some.
I doubt the President knows this history, but I don't doubt he knows exactly what he's doing and what sentiments he's trying to appeal to. Just as he did after Charlottesville and when he took out his newspaper ads calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five. https://t.co/T7IoDnz0AW
— Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (@CongressmanRaja) May 29, 2020