The Independent employs over 100 journalists around the world to bring you news you can trust. Please consider a contribution or subscription.

Donald Trump’s escalating war with Twitter has taken a new turn since rioting broke out in Minneapolis over the killing of George Floyd. Raging at the sight of looting and vandalism in a major city, the president Thursday night tweeted that he would not stand for it.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd,” he wrote, “and I won’t let that happen. 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. Thank you!”

The president’s tweets come following the death of Mr Floyd, 46, who died on Monday after being held down by a police officer who knelt on his neck, despite him telling the officer he could not breathe.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

The second tweet was flagged by Twitter, who put it behind a click-through warning saying it “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence”. It was then quoted in full by the official White House account, where it was not immediately flagged.

The threatening words at the end of the tweet, however, aren’t Trump’s own. They belong to a Miami police chief of the 1960s, Walter Headley – a man who deployed harsh, even brutal policing tactics in an attempt to bring black residents of his city to heel.

In 1967, as social unrest roiled many American cities, Headley gained a level of national notoriety for declaring “war” on crime in his city – and especially upon young black men, who were subjected to warrantless searches, including strip-searches, and frequently met with outright violence.

“In declaring war on young hoodlums, from 15 to 21, who have taken advantage of the civil rights campaign,” he said, “we don’t mind being accused of police brutality. They haven’t seen anything yet.”

His force’s tactics drew anger from civil rights leaders, who accused him of stoking racial resentment of the police even as the crime rate dropped. But Headley’s conscience was apparently impervious to their pleas: according to a UPI article from the time, Headley said the crime rate in the city had dropped thanks to his “letting the word filter down” that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.

The summer after he made those remarks, the Republican party held its national convention in Miami, Florida, where Richard Nixon accepted the nomination for the election he would go on to win. While the convention was in progress, riots broke out in Miami’s predominantly black Liberty City area, where resentment at racist policing tactics had finally boiled over.

Headley refused to return from his North Carolina vacation – simply saying of his officers that “they know what to do”. When he died in 1968, his AP obituary called him the “architect of a crime crackdown that sent police dogs and shotgun-toting patrolmen into Miami’s slums in force”.

Ironically, Mr Trump himself says he has considered moving his own Republican convention to Florida, angry that the scheduled host state, North Carolina, is enforcing social distancing rules that would limit the number of people allowed into the arena.

Meanwhile, the violence in Minneapolis goes on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Washington NFL team to retire nickname on Monday: reports

The Washington Redskins plan to announce Monday that they will retire their controversial team nickname, multiple outlets reported Sunday night. One source told Sports Business Journal that the team “felt it was important to remove any doubts as to the…

Country bars entry to foreign nationals for refusing to self-isolate

South Korea has denied entry to eight foreign nationals after they refused to comply with strict quarantine requirements introduced this week to help the country tackle a rise in coronavirus infections, as anger mounts over visitors who have been caught…

Iowa’s Jack Koerner injured in boating accident in the Ozarks, university says

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what’s clicking on Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner was seriously injured in a boating accident in the Ozarks Friday night, according to reports. Missouri State Highway Patrol responded to the…

China coronavirus claims sixth victim as holiday travel heightens infection risks

BEIJING (Reuters) – The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China climbed to six On Tuesday as authorities reported a surge in new cases, with fears that hundreds of millions of people traveling for the Lunar New Year holiday…