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Trump: 'Haters' Are Distorting My Tweet About Looters

President says he doesn't want shooting to happen
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2020 1:18 PM CDT
Updated May 29, 2020 2:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump's fight with Twitter has escalated further now that the site has restricted one of his tweets for "glorifying violence." Background and related coverage about the controversy:

  • The tweet: Early Friday, Trump was tweeting about the violence in Minneapolis. "....These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen," he wrote. "Just spoke to 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!"
  • Original quote: That last part of Trump's tweet goes back to December 1967, when Miami Police Chief Walter Headley used the same phrase, reports the Miami Herald. His quote: "We haven't had any serious problems with civil uprising and looting because I've let the word filter down that when the looting starts, the shooting starts."
  • Clarifying: Trump sought to distance himself from Headley's version in an afternoon tweet. "Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night—or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot," he wrote. "I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means." Trump added: "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 ..."

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  • Fallout in the '60s: A federal task force later blamed Headley's press conference as a major factor in rioting that consumed the city the following summer, reports the Washington Post. "We don't mind being accused of police brutality," he also said during the presser, per NBC News. "Ninety percent of our Negro population is law abiding and wants to eliminate our crime problems, but 10% are young hoodlums who have taken advantage of the civil rights campaign." In August 1968, Miami police fatally shot three people during civil unrest during the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, notes the Herald.
  • Twitter's explanation: Twitter's "public interest notice" on Trump's tweet means that people can't like or reply to it; it can be retweeted, but only with the warning overlaying it. "This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today," the company wrote. CEO Jack Dorsey was informed of the move beforehand, reports Axios.
  • One interpretation: Gizmodo looks at Trump's tweet and says he issued "a fairly straightforward call—verging on an order—for elements of the US military (presumably the National Guard) to enter Minneapolis and open fire, which if acted on would constitute an atrocity."
  • From the right: Twitter is in the wrong here, writes Matt Vespa at Townhall. "Maybe a bit far with the shootings comment, but Trump is president and we have a First Amendment," he writes. "Also, is the remark 'glorifying' or saying what actually happens when looting begins in any situation where riots erupt?"
  • Pushing back: White House communications official Dan Scavino blasted Twitter in strong language, notes Business Insider. "Twitter is targeting the President of the United States 24/7, while turning their heads to protest organizers who are planning, plotting, and communicating their next moves daily on this very platform," he wrote. "Twitter is full of s--- (and) more and more people are beginning to get it." The co-hosts and panelists on Fox & Friends similarly defended Trump, reports Mediaite. "I think any notion that Twitter had any type of neutrality at all is just blown out the window," said contributor Emily Compagno.
  • Happened again: The official White House account tweeted the same text as Trump's original, and Twitter placed the same restrictions on it.
(Read more Twitter stories.)

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