Twitter placed a warning on a tweet sent out by Donald Trump saying that demonstrators in Minneapolis, angered over the police killing of George Floyd, could be shot.
Trump accused the city’s leadership of failing to control the situation and threatened to send in the National Guard. In a followup tweet, he called demonstrators “thugs,” and adding “any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
The “looting and shooting” reference is reportedly a throwback to remarks made in 1967 by then-Miami police chief Walter Headley, who had a reputation for supporting police harassment and had announced a “crackdown on slum hoodlums,” which was quoted in a United Press International story at the time. “We haven’t had any serious problems with civil uprising and looting,” he said, “because I’ve let the word filter down that when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
The tweet from Trump, sent out early Friday (May 29), was in response to the violence that has increased over the past three nights in Minneapolis as protesters call for justice and charges against the officers involved in Floyd’s death.
Floyd died May 25, when police officer Derek Chauvin attempted to arrest him by placing his knee on the 46-year-old’s neck causing him to lose consciousness and die.
The officers, including Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng were all fired. Both local authorities and the FBI are investigating the incident, but charges against them have not yet been brought by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.
The social media platform outlined that Trump’s tweets violated their platform guidelines regarding violent and threatening language:
This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.
Twitter explains on its Rules and Policies page that normally it would remove such language but when it comes to posts from elected officials that are relevant to an important dialogue, it may opt to leave the Tweet up.
“In rare instances, we may choose to leave up a Tweet from an elected or government official that would otherwise be taken down,” their statement says. “Instead we will place it behind a notice providing context about the rule violation that allows people to click through to see the Tweet.”
According to The New York Times, the president signed an executive order on Thursday that tries to limit legal protections on social media companies for content posted on their websites. It was an apparent retaliation to Twitter adding fact-checking labels to two tweets he had sent out about mail-in voting that were inaccurate.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey verbally struck back at Trump, who directed much of his criticism toward the city’s leadership in the wake of the violence. During a Friday (May 29) press conference, he spoke bluntly about Trump’s remarks.
"Let me say this, weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else during a time of crisis. Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis,” Frey said in a press conference.
“We are strong as hell. Is this a difficult time period? Yes, but you better be damned sure that we’re going to get through this.”
Trump attempted to clean up what he said in his original tweet, comparing the violence in Minneapolis to the shootings in Louisville that took place in Louisville Thursday night (May 28). In a Friday press conference, he was expected to comment on the social unrest and his comments, but only made a statement on U.S. policy on China.
Photo Credit: Robert Alexander/Getty Images)\