As protests continue in America following the death of George Floyd, Twitter has deleted one of Donald Trump’s tweets for “glorifying violence”. In an interview with Sky News, Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu just gave important context to why the social media giant’s decision was so crucial.
On Friday 29 May, President Donald Trump was met with uproar at his tweets in response to the protests that have erupted over America. The protests follow the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after white police officer Derek Chauvin held him down to the floor by kneeling on his neck as he struggled to breathe.
A viral video, shared by a passer-by who repeatedly asked the officer to let the non-resisting Floyd breathe, shows the senseless brutality of what happened. A mass protest to get justice for Floyd and all police murders of African American people started in Minneapolis on Tuesday. Since then, demonstrations have spread across the United States.
A 43-year-old black man, Calvin L. Horton Jr., was shot dead outside a pawnshop on Wednesday. The shop owner has been arrested and faces possible murder charges. Although a motive for the shooting has not been confirmed, the shop was looted and damaged that night.
Trump reacted to the growing unrest in a tweet. “I can’t stand back and 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 and get the job done right…”
He followed with another 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 seven people shot. I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means…”
Many highlighted deep concern at Trump’s use of the phrase “looting leads to shooting”, and the attitude it gives licence to. In a major move by social media giant Twitter, the second tweet has been deleted because it “violated the rules about glorifying violence”.
In a subsequent interview with Sky News on Friday, activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu expertly summarised why it was crucial for Twitter to remove the tweet, and called Trump out for racism in the process.
“Let’s be very clear on what he said: ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts’. Think about that…” she said.
“Donald Trump’s tweet was egregious and unacceptable, absolutely reprehensible, knowing fully well he’s giving licence to the military, to the national guard, to shoot black people in the streets – because that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
Mos-Shogbamimu continued: “Trump’s hypocrisy is staggering. In January, he tweeted to Iran not to shoot its protesters, saying ‘the US is looking’.
“In April he tweeted to the protesters in Minnesota [over lockdown rules] saying ‘you should liberate the state’. Now, we all saw – live, everyone globally saw – that these were predominately white people standing in the face of police officers, quite frankly threatening their lives. If a black person had done that, a black person would have been shot. Where was his ‘I can’t stand back and watch this?’”
She added: “Donald Trump is being a racist. That is what he’s doing right here, he’s enabling it. Twitter was absolutely right to do this. George Floyd’s death was not just inhumane, it was murder. Murder that happens not just today, but a lot of the time to black people….
“How many more of these racist attacks must black people take for there to be change?”
On Friday it was also reported that former officer Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter But, according to The Hennepin County Medical Examiner, there are “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” in the preliminary results of Floyd’s autopsy.
The Washington Post has reported on records that show Chauvin had previously shot one suspect, was involved in the fatal shooting of another, and received at least 17 complaints over two decades while working for the Minneapolis Police Department.
Protests continue across America.
How to support Justice for George Floyd:
Donate to the official George Floyd memorial fund, a GoFundMe page set up by Floyd’s brother.
Sign the petition urging Minnesota Mayor Jacob Frey and District Attorney Mike Freeman to charge the officers who killed George Floyd.
Support the Black Visions Collective, an organisation working specifically on racial justice within the state of Minnesota.
Further charities and organisations to engage with: