Twitter accuses Trump of ‘glorifying violence’ after Minnesota ‘shooting’ tweet

National Guard deployed in Minnesota due to riots after George Floyd’s death

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey rebukes US president Donald Trump and announces the evacuation of a police station as protests continue after the killing of George Floyd. Video: Reuters

 

Twitter has accused US president Donald Trump 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!” Mr Trump’s tweet read.

George Floyd (46) was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by police officers on the side of a street in the Minnesota city on Monday. Video footage shot by a bystander shows one of the police officers pressing his knee to Mr Floyd’s neck. The detained man can he heard groaning, and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe,” before he stops speaking. He later died in police custody.

The death of Mr Floyd has sparked allegations of institutional racism within the police force and instantly drew comparisons to the death of Eric Garner who died after being held in a chokehold by a New York police officer in 2014 .

Mr 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.”

Meanwhile, demonstrations took place in several US cities on Thursday night in protest at the death of a Mr Floyd.

New York city and Denver, Colorado saw protests on Thursday night, as demonstrators defied social distancing rules introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus and took to the streets.

Arrests were made in New York, while authorities in Denver investigated reports of gun shots, though no injuries were reported.

National Guard

Minnesota’s governor activated the state’s national guard on Thursday following violent scenes in Minneapolis on Wednesday night.

Protestors clashed with police in demonstrations in the south side of the city. Businesses and buildings were set alight and looting was reported at a Target supermarket. A police precinct building in the area was also attacked. One man was shot dead by a member of the public. An investigation into the shooting is underway.

The governor also declared a state of emergency in several other cities in Minnesota include St Paul and Twin Cities.

George Floyd's death also sparked protests in Los Angeles and Memphis earlier this week as demonstrators took to the streets.

While the four police men who arrested Mr Floyd have been fired, there have been calls for the men to face criminal prosecution. US media reported that the officer who placed his knee on the deceased’s neck had at least 18 previous complaints filed against him.

The officers detained Mr Floyd after receiving a 911 call from a shop owner who said that the man had tried to use fake money in his store. According to a transcript of the phone call, which was released by police on Thursday night, the shop owner said that Mr Floyd was drunk and had sat on his car after he left the shop.

Mayor

The mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey was among those who called for an FBI investigation, and said that Mr Floyd would still be alive if he was white. “Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” he said. “For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man’s neck. Five minutes.”

Presidential candidate Joe Biden called for a thorough FBI investigation into the death of the 46 year-old man who worked as a security guard in a local restaurant. “George Floyd deserved better and his family deserves justice. His life mattered. I’m grateful for the swift action in Minneapolis to fire the officers involved – they must be held responsible for their egregious actions. The FBI should conduct a thorough investigation.”

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who represents a Minneapolis district in congress tweeted: “The police officer who killed George Floyd should be charged with murder.”

She later called for peaceful protests as riots took place in her home town on Wednesday night. “Violence only begets violence,” she said. “We should and must protest peacefully.”

The death of Mr Floyd comes a few weeks after three men in Georgia were charged with the shooting of an African-American man, Ahmaud Arbery, who was jogging near the city of Brunswick on a Sunday afternoon. While the incident happened in February, no arrests were made, despite a police report being filed at the time. However, the emergence of footage of the shooting two months later, prompted widespread public outrage at the incident. A father and son are awaiting trial on charges of federal murder, while a third man who filmed the incident was subsequently arrested and charged by police last week.

Twitter’s action came just hours after Mr 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 criticised.

The proposed legislation is part of an executive order Mr Trump signed on Thursday afternoon. Mr 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 . – Additional reporting from Reuters