President Donald Trump encouraged governors to “dominate” protestors across the nation who have taken to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer who pinned him to the ground with his knee on Floyd’s neck.

Though police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, protests have swept the nation, as demonstrators demand systemic reform and charges to be brought against two other responding officers who failed to intervene.

In some cities, protests have turned violent with police firing rubber bullets and tear gas while neighboring stores are set on fire and looted.

Trump has previously encouraged violence against the protestors, tweeting “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” but escalated his attacks on Monday by calling those on the streets “terrorists.”


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“You have to dominate,” Trump told governors during a private call. “If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time — they’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”

He continued, “You have to arrest people, and you have to try people, and they have to go jail for long periods of time.”

However, police have been making arrests — a tally by the Associated Press shows that 4,100 arrests have been made nationwide since the protests began.

The president also claimed on the call that Minnesota had become “a laughingstock all over the world.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) told reporters after the call: “I said no one is laughing here, we’re in pain. I also shared with the president that a posture of force on the ground is both unsustainable militarily — it’s also unsustainable socially, because it’s the antithesis of how we live.”

Trump’s remarks prompted bipartisan backlash, as governors urged the president to stop stirring the pot.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said Monday there has been a lack of compassion coming from the White House.

“I know I should be surprised when I hear incendiary words like this from him, but I’m not,” Baker said. “At so many times during these past several weeks when the country needed compassion and leadership the most, it was simply nowhere to be found.”

He added: “Instead we got bitterness, combativeness and self-interest. That’s not what we need in Boston. It’s not what we need right now in Massachusetts, and it’s definitely not what need across this great country of ours either.”

Christine Todd Whitman, formerly a Republican governor of New Jersey, also posted a lengthy statement criticizing Trump’s remarks on Twitter.

“Please stop injecting yourself into crises. Don’t try to tell governors what to do,” she wrote. “Instead of calling for calm & for the nation to unite, you were sequestered in the White House basement & silent. Governors and mayors, on the other hand, were actively engaged in trying to bring order to their cities and towns.”

She added: “While you only seem to feel the need for the use of more force, local elected leaders tried to control things in a way that will allow them to build for the future. While you just want to condemn people, real leaders are acknowledging the very real racial issues we are facing.”

Whitman finished by directly attacking Trump.

“We need a leader to plan for the future,” she said. “You, Mr. President, are not that leader. In fact, you are making things worse on almost every front. Please, go back to your bunker and let the real leaders solve our problems.”



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