Speaking at a press conference Friday, President Donald Trump refused to take any questions from reporters after announcing the United States will end its relationship with the World Health Organization.
Trump criticized China and WHO for not being more transparent with the coronavirus pandemic but made no mention of the social unrest sparked this week by the death of George Floyd.
The death of Floyd, who was seen on a disturbing video begging for air as Minneapolis police officer David Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes, drew outrage and protests across the Twin Cities.
As the president turned to leave the podium, reporters attempted to shout questions at Trump.
“Why not address the people of Minnesota sir?” a reporter could be heard shouting at the president.
Despite announcing that his White House event was a news conference, Trump turns and walks away from the press when his speech ends. He takes no questions.
Trump never mentioned the situation in Minnesota or the issue of racism across America. pic.twitter.com/QaWHMExkF5
— The American Independent (@AmerIndependent) May 29, 2020
“Is the president afraid to lead right now?” MSNBC’s Chuck Todd remarked as the president was seen quikckly departing the White House Rose Garden.
— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) May 29, 2020
The President escapes his own press conference to evade questions on Minneapolis pic.twitter.com/e7jKzlvlTL
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) May 29, 2020
Minutes before taking the podium, Trump sought to explain his tweets criticizing Minneapolis protesters, doubling down on his assertion that “looting leads to shooting” but pushing back on characterizations that he was inciting violence.
Trump sparked controversy overnight Friday when he lashed out at Minneapolis’s Democratic mayor and criticized protesters demonstrating in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, in police custody. A police station was burned to the ground
In his earlier tweet, Trump called the protesters “thugs” and appeared to threaten military action in Minneapolis if the violence persisted.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
The phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” was used by Miami Police Chief Walter Headley in 1967 during the civil rights movement at a time the city had a history of aggressive policing.
Twitter added a warning label to Trump’s tweet, saying it violated the company’s policies by “glorifying violence.” Trump has lashed out at the social media giant, accusing the company of censoring tweets from himself and conservatives.