After a week of intense criticism over his handling of nationwide protests demanding racial justice in the wake of George Floyd‘s death, President Donald Trump claimed a strong economy was the “greatest thing that could happen for race relations.”

“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that is happening for our country,” Trump said Friday, referring to May’s lower-than-predicted unemployment rate. “This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”

Unemployment in May declined for white and Hispanic workers, but remained roughly the same for African Americans, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor. Among those three groups, Hispanics had the highest unemployment rate at 17.6%, while African Americans reported a rate of 16.8% and whites had 12.4%.

A video of Floyd being killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes sparked outrage over historic abuses of power against the African American community by police.

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Peaceful protests, some of which were accompanied by looting, took place across the nation, including at the steps of the White House. In some cities, demonstrators were teargassed, shot at with rubber bullets and arrested.

Trump called demonstrators “thugs” and threatened to deploy active-duty military troops on U.S. soil to face off against protesters.

Before he name-dropped Floyd, Trump said that “equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender or creed.”

Asked Friday what is plan was to meet the demands of protesters, Trump again referred to the economy.

“That’s what my plan is,” he said. “We’re going to have the strongest economy in the world.”

Democratic nominee Joe Biden criticized Trump for politicizing Floyd’s death during his remarks.

“George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,’ have echoed all across this nation, quite frankly, all around the world,” Biden said Friday. “For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd, I frankly think it’s despicable.”


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