President Donald Trump’s recent tweet on the unrest in Minneapolis was incendiary enough, but he chose an evocative set of words that apparently find their origin in a “racist” police chief from the 1960s.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” he wrote in a tweet flagged by Twitter as glorifying violence. “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.”
The official White House account has reposted the text of President Trump’s tweet which was flagged by Twitter as glorifying violence. pic.twitter.com/6fJklDFlrn
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) May 29, 2020
The last seven words of that quote has been attributed to racist, segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace, but the phrase pops up in a December 28, 1967 New York Times article: Miami Police Chief Walter E. Headley said it.
“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,” he said. Headley had said in a press conference that “We don’t mind behind accused of police brutality.”
Yep. A racist police chief’s quote. Can’t remember the name of his own cabinet members but he knows a quote about shooting black Americans from 1967. Weird. https://t.co/CHQvx7Wxpf
— Fred Wellman (@FPWellman) May 29, 2020
At the time, his statements drew the criticism of civil rights leaders. Marvin Davies, Florida field director for the NAACP, demanded Headley’s resignation.
“I would hope he is not giving a signal to his law enforcement officers to revert to the enforcement practices of 15 or 20 years ago when, in too many instances to be black was to be guilty,” said Dr. George Simpson, president of the Miami Chapter of the NAACP.
Twitter’s flagging of the president’s tweet came the day after Trump signed an executive order which, he says, is meant to crack down on Big Tech’s selective censorship. The executive order was signed not long after Twitter decided to fact-check the president for the first time.
[Image via Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images]
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