President Trump on Saturday vowed to stop “mob violence,” as he condemned riots that have broken out amid what originally were protests across the country in response to Minneapolis man George Floyd’s death in police custody earlier this week.
The president called Floyd’s death a “tragedy” and said “it should never have happened.”
“It filled America all over the country with horror, anger and grief,” Trump said Saturday, noting that he spoke to Floyd’s family and “expressed the sorrow of our entire nation for their loss.”
“I stand before you as a friend and ally of every American seeking justice and peace,” the president said, before adding he also stands in opposition to looters.
The president went on to say that he understands the “pain” that people feel, and said his administration “supports the right of peaceful protesters and we hear their pleas,” but said much of “what we are seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with justice or peace.”
“The memory of Floyd is being dishonored by rioters, looters, and anarchists,” Trump said, blaming "Antifa and other radical left-wing groups for terrorizing the innocent, destroying jobs, hurting businesses and burning down buildings."
Trump later tweeted that the National Guard will "do the job" as he took a swipe at Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey:
"The National Guard has been released in Minneapolis to do the job that the Democrat Mayor couldn’t do. Should have been used 2 days ago & there would not have been damage & Police Headquarters would not have been taken over & ruined. Great job by the National Guard. No games!"
It is unclear which groups may be participating in the riots across the country. The president has maintained that Antifa and other left-wing groups are to blame, while Minnesota officials claimed that white supremacists and other elements were involved in stoking violence.
Trump went on to warn that the “main victims of this horrible situation ... are the citizens that live in these once lovely communities.”
“The mobs are devastating the life’s work of good people and destroying their dreams,” he said. “Right now, America needs creation, not destruction. Cooperation, not contempt. Security, not anarchy and there will be no anarchy. Civilization must be cherished, defended and protected. The voices of law-abiding citizens must be heard and heard very loudly."
He added: “In America, justice is never achieved at the hands of an angry mob. I will not allow angry mobs to dominate.”
The riots broke out across the nation after Floyd died in police custody on Monday.
Floyd was arrested Monday after an employee at a grocery store called police and accused him of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd, who is black, was then handcuffed by Derek Chauvin, who is white, and pushed to the ground.
A cell phone video shows Floyd’s head is turned to the side and he does not appear to be resisting. Chauvin had his knee pressed to the back of Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd is seen gasping for air and begging Chauvin to stop. He does not. Bystanders are also heard shouting at Chauvin to take his knee off of Floyd’s neck.
Floyd, 46, died in police custody Monday night.
Chauvin was charged Friday with 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter in Minnesota.
Meanwhile, the president went on to say that “we support the majority of police officers who are incredible in every way and devoted public servants that keep our cities safe and protect our communities.”
He added: “No one is more upset than fellow law enforcement officers by the small handful who failed to abide by their oath to serve and protect.
“My administration will stop mob violence and will stop it cold,” Trump said. “It does not serve any citizen of any race, color or creed, for the government to give into anarchy, abandon police precincts, or allow communities to be burned to the ground. It won’t happen.”
The president went on to tout “the leadership of the National Guard,” which was mobilized to Minnesota on Friday.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Bill Barr said Friday that the federal investigation into Floyd’s death and whether any federal civil rights laws were violated is "proceeding quickly."