Donald Trump has threatened people protesting the death of George Floyd with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” if they had breached the fence outside the White House, where members of the US Secret Service are “waiting for action”.
In a Twitter thread posted after another night of protests and uprisings against police brutality across the US, the president suggested that US Secret Service members look forward to inflicting violence.
He also appeared to encourage counter protests, promoting “MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE”.
The president said: “The front line was replaced with fresh agents, like magic. Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence. If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least. Many Secret Service agents just waiting for action. ‘We put the young ones on the front line, sir, they love it, and … good practice.”
His posts also appeared to try to undermine protesters calling for justice in the wake of killings of black men by police by saying that the US Secret Service (which he appraised as “not only totally professional, but very cool”) had “let the ‘protesters’ scream [and] rant as much as they wanted” but “whenever someone got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on them, hard — didn’t know what hit them.”
Now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with murder on Friday following the killing of Mr Floyd four days earlier, when video captured Mr Chauvin kneeling into the neck of Mr Floyd for several minutes while he cried out that he couldn’t breathe.
His death and the delay to place the officers at the scene in custody galvanised an uproar across the US as communities raged against police killings of black Americans and people of colour.
The president doubled down on his warning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” — which Twitter had censored for the company’s rules about messages promoting or glorifying violence — by claiming he was saying “it was spoken as a fact, not as a statement”.
“It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media,” he said on Friday.
For more than five hours that night, dozens of protesters reached the barriers in front of the White House, which was initially placed in lock down, and pushed up to face riot shields and Secret Service members.
Protestors managed to break through barricades, which were frequently replaced, as police fired pepper spray into crowds and thousands of other residents protested throughout Washington DC.