United States

Trump on Minneapolis unrest: "when the looting starts the shooting starts"

Twitter took action against the US president after he threatened to send in the military to quell unrest in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd.

Trump on Minneapolis unrest: "when the looting starts the shooting starts"
DOUG MILLS/ POOL EFE

Donald Trump’s love of social media appears to be a thing of the past as the US president ramped up his rhetoric against Twitter in the midst of the backlash against the authorities over the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky in what the Democrat-controlled US House Judiciary Committee termed “a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct.”

The deaths of Floyd and Taylor took place after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man who was gunned down by a former police officer and his son while jogging in his Georgia neighborhood.

Live coverage: George Floyd death sparks protests across US

"Public trust in the blind administration of justice is being seriously tested by recent high-profile killings of African-Americans," the House Judiciary Committee told Attorney General William Barr in a statement.

The deaths of Floyd, Arbery and Taylor have garnered national attention and civil rights advocates say they are the latest in a long history of racially motivated attacks against unarmed black men and women by white police or perpetrators.

The death of Floyd, 46, sparked sometimes violent protests this week, after video showing him gasping for air while a policeman kneeled on his neck went viral. It echoed the 2014 death of Eric Garner in New York, which helped fuel the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The FBI has already opened investigations of the three latest incidents, and the department has said it is weighing whether to file hate crime charges against Arbery's killers.

The police officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck, Derek Chavin, was taken into custody and charged with murder and manslaughter on Friday.

Trump threat to social media protection

Trump used his favoured social media platform to warn protesters that the army would be deployed amid civil unrest, leading Twitter to accuse the US president of "glorifying violence", attaching a disclaimer to one of his tweets about unrest in Minneapolis that it said broke its rules.

"...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. Thank you!" Trump's tweet read.

Trump's message can now be read only after clicking on a notice which says: "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."

In a thread, Twitter said it had taken the action "in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts". People will still "be able to retweet with comment, but will not be able to like, reply or retweet it."

Twitter's action came just hours after Trump said he would introduce legislation that may scrap or weaken a law that has protected internet companies, including Twitter and Facebook, in an extraordinary attempt to regulate social media platforms where he has been criticized.

The proposed legislation is part of an executive order Trump signed on Thursday afternoon. Trump had attacked Twitter for tagging tweets about unsubstantiated claims of fraud about mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact-check the posts.