(STAR TRIBUNE) – — President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to take action to bring the city of Minneapolis “under control,” calling violent protesters outraged by the death of a black man in police custody “thugs” and saying that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Trump tweeted after protesters torched a Minneapolis police station, capping three days of violence over the death of George Floyd, who pleaded for air as a white police officer knelt on his neck.
He said he spoke to the state’s Democratic governor, Tim Walz, and “told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
Trump didn’t clarify what he meant — Walz has already activated the National Guard — but the tweet drew another warning from Twitter for his rhetoric, with the social media giant saying he had “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.”
Slapping back, the White House reposted Trump’s “shooting starts” message on its official Twitter account Friday morning.
The move came a day after Trump signed an executive order challenging the site’s liability protections.
Trump, who has often remained silent in the aftermath of police-involved killings and has a long history of defending police, has been uncharacteristically vocal this time, saying earlier Thursday that he felt “very, very badly” about Floyd’s death and calling video capturing his struggle “a very shocking sight.”
But his language grew more aggressive as violence boiled over in Minneapolis on Thursday night. “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” he wrote shortly before 1 a.m.
Although Twitter added the warning to Trump’s tweet, the company did not remove it, saying it had determined the message might be in the public interest — something it does only for tweets by elected and government officials. A user looking at Trump’s timeline would have to click to see the original tweet.
Twitter explained that it took action “in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts” but “kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance.”
Earlier this week, Twitter fact checked two of Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots, drawing his anger.