Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Friday accused President Donald Trump of advocating for “armed violence” against black communities across the country as unrest continues over the death of George Floyd.
“At this critical moment in our nation’s history, at a time when we need a president who brings us together against injustice, we have a president who is opportunistically moving us down a path of toward authoritarianism and violence,” Sanders said in a video statement shared to social media. “And he stands astride a grotesque system of ingrained racism and economic disparity that now more than ever needs to be ripped down.”
Sanders then cited President Donald Trump’s tweet in which he threatened to deploy the military to quell the rioters in Minneapolis as they set ablaze Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct and multiple businesses.
“I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right,” the president tweeted Thursday evening.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. 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,” he added.
Twitter placed a warning notice on President Trump’s second tweet, claiming it “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.”
Sanders continued: “While Trump claims to care about black lives, he now publically advocates for armed violence against black communities.”
On Friday, President Trump defended his tweet in which he wrote: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
“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. I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means,” the president tweeted. “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, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!”
….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, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
In addition to Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused President Trump of advocating for “illegal, state-sponsored killing” after the president threatened to use the National Guard to crack down on riots in Minneapolis.
“Donald Trump is calling for violence against Black Americans,” Warren tweeted Friday. “His advocacy of illegal, state-sponsored killing is horrific. Politicians who refuse to condemn it share responsibility for the consequences.”
Protests erupted in cities across the United States overnight as activists called for justice for the death of Floyd.
“The absolute chaos — this is not grieving, and this is not making a statement [about an injustice] that we fully acknowledge needs to be fixed — this is dangerous,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said. “You need to go home.”
Walz said he spoke with Floyd’s family, who said the violence that had overtaken the city was counterproductive to the message activists were trying to send about the 46-year-old’s death.
Floyd died Monday after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck during an arrest for nearly 9 minutes. There have been daily protests since the incident — which was recorded on video — calling for the officer and three others present during the arrest to face charges.
Protesters took to the streets across the country Friday night, many beginning as peaceful demonstrations that later took a more violent turn. Several buildings were torched while businesses were vandalized and looted.
The UPI contributed to this report.