President Donald Trump remarked on the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, after video was released of Floyd being killed by a police officer who restrained him by pressing his knee into his neck for nine minutes and cut off his oxygen supply. The video sparked outrage across social media and the news, and has lead to widespread protests across the city.
"I feel very, very badly. That’s a very shocking sight," Trump said about the video, according to the Associated Press. He added, "That was a very, very bad thing that I saw. I saw it last night and I didn't like it...what I saw was not good. Very bad."
Amid accusations that his comments were merely lip service, White House spokesman Judd Deere insisted that Trump was taking the death seriously.
“This has nothing to do with politics and is only about making sure justice is done, and anyone who suggests otherwise is only seeking to sow division and ignore the President’s unwavering support for the African-American community,” Deere said. The president has been making an open bid to win Black support for his re-election in November.
On Wednesday (May 27), Trump tweeted that he has instructed the FBI and Department of Justice to investigate Floyd's death:
At my request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
....I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by local law enforcement. My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
The statement from Trump is unusual. Several high-profile police-involved killings have gone by without a word from the president, including that of Stephon Clark, an unarmed Black man fatally shot by Sacramento police in 2018. By contrast, he has a history of stoking racist violence, including his notorious involvement in the Central Park Five case.
Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images and CNN