As protesters demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism again clashed with authorities outside the White House on Monday night, the president took to Twitter to ask why he didn’t see a different kind of demonstration instead.
Above a retweeted video of a black man repeatedly punching a white department store employee, Trump wrote, “Looks what’s going on here. Where are the protesters?”
He also retweeted another account that asked “Where are the protests for this?” with a clip of a black man pushing a white woman into the side of a subway car.
“So terrible!” Trump added above that video.
To critics, Trump’s tweets implied that individual crimes by black men are equivalent to the systemic police violence against people of color that has sparked weeks of nationwide protests. The tweets also come days after Trump repeatedly used racially offensive stereotypes at his Tulsa campaign rally, a preview of the “racially inflammatory messaging” he’s likely to use in his bid for a second term, The Washington Post’s Jose A. Del Real reported.
False claims about the prevalence of violent black-on-white crime have been a hallmark of white supremacist websites, the Southern Poverty Law Center found in a 2018 study. Those sites radicalized Dylann Roof, who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston in 2015 while falsely claiming in a manifesto that huge numbers of “black on White murders got ignored.”
Trump has spread similarly untrue allegations before, notably in 2015 when he tweeted an image of a dark-skinned man with a gun alongside “racially loaded and incorrect murder statistics,” as PolitiFact found in a “pants on fire” rating of the tweet.
Trump’s tweets on Monday highlighted disturbing videos of seemingly random attacks by black men against white people.
The first, which originated from an account that regularly spreads anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant content, shows a 2019 attack in a Brooklyn subway station. A 28-year-old suspect described as a well-known “transit nuisance” was quickly arrested.
The second, retweeted from conservative blogger Matt Walsh, shows an assault inside a Flint Township, Mich., Macy’s store on June 15. Some claimed on social media that the white employee had used a racial slur before the attack, the Detroit Free Press reported, but Macy’s told the paper its own investigation found that “the attack was unprovoked.”
Flint Township police are still trying to find the two men in the video, the Free Press reported.
Critics lambasted Trump on Twitter, questioning the true message behind the tweets.
Very cool that the so-called “least racist person in history” is currently spending his evening tweeting out videos of random black men attacking white people. https://t.co/1LMikDf7uR
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) June 23, 2020
Why is the President tweeting random videos of public fights or beatings? At 1030pm?
These aren’t even dogwhistles anymore, this is a bullhorn.
Don’t pretend you don’t know exactly what this is. https://t.co/0dZZRAMJxl
— Conor Rogers 🏳️🌈 (@conorjrogers) June 23, 2020
Trump is seizing on and amplifying random, anomolous instances of interracial violence, needlessly inflaming racial tensions at a moment of polarization and social upheaval. This is abhorrent and irresponsible. His subordinates and children know this and should say so. https://t.co/p6g8h50jJX
— Conor Friedersdorf (@conor64) June 23, 2020