Washington, May 30 (USA Today) – President Donald Trump said Friday he spoke with the family of George Floyd and asserted that his relatives are “entitled to justice” in the case.
“I understand the hurt. I understand the pain. People have really been through a lot,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “The family of George is entitled to justice and the people of Minnesota are entitled to live in safety.”
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested Friday, days after video circulated of him holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes before Floyd died. Floyd’s family released a statement following the arrest, calling it a “welcome but overdue step on the road to justice.”
Trump’s remarks came hours after an overnight tweet in which he called the Minneapolis mayor “very weak” and said that “thugs are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd.” He also singled out looters, posting that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
The phrase was first used by Miami Police Chief Walter Hedley in 1967, who threatened a crackdown on “hoodlums” he said were taking advantage of the civil rights movement. Questioned about the racial origins of the phrase, Trump said he wasn’t aware of them.
“I’ve heard that phrase for a long time. I don’t know where it came from,” Trump said. “I’ve also heard it from any other places.”
Trump appeared to row back the tweet before speaking on Friday. In a followup tweet on Friday, he wrote that “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.”
Trump didn’t say specifically who he spoke with or when. Asked on Thursday whether he had spoken with the family he said he had not.
“I just expressed my sorrow,” Trump said. “It certainly looked like there was no excuse for it.”
A reporter asked what Floyd’s family said to him.
“They were grieving,” Trump responded.