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Following a call with Trump and other governors, Whitmer called the president’s response to the nationwide protests “deeply disturbing” and “a clear signal that this administration is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division.”
“The president’s dangerous comments should be gravely concerning to all Americans, because they send a clear signal that this administration is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division, which I fear will only lead to more violence and destruction,” Whitmer said in a statement.
The Democratic governor added: “We must reject this way of thinking. This is a moment that calls for empathy, humanity and unity. This is one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history, but as Americans, we must remember our enemy is racial injustice, not one another.”
Whitmer said Trump “repeatedly and viciously” attacked the governors, “who are doing everything they can to keep the peace while fighting a once-in-a-generation global pandemic.”
Trump, earlier Monday during his call with governors, unloaded on them over how they’ve responded to the unrest, calling them “weak” and urging them to “dominate.”
“Most of you are weak,” Trump said. “You have to arrest people.”
“You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time,” he said, according to a senior staffer in a governor’s office who was listening to the call. “They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”
Trump also told local leaders they “have to get much tougher” on protesters. Trump also promised to “clamp down” on protests in D.C.
“You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” said Trump. “We’re doing it in Washington, D.C. We’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before.”
He urged cities like New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles to take similar measures.
The president’s fiery demands follow five straight days of protests, some of which turned to riots and looting to leave entire city blocks in ruin. On Friday night, Secret Service rushed Trump to an underground bunker as protesters pressed toward the White House.
As of Monday morning, at least 4,400 people have been taken into custody nationwide in relation to the chaos, according to an Associated Press tally. Meanwhile, countless more business owners whose livelihoods already have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are finding their stores damaged and ransacked.
Demonstrators have taken to the streets to demand justice and police accountability after Floyd died in police custody after authorities say Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck, reportedly for nearly nine minutes, while three other officers stood by.
Floyd’s death came after tensions had already flared after two white men were arrested in May for the February shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and the Louisville police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in her home in March.
While many of the daytime protests have remained peaceful, there has been widespread looting and vandalism occurring either on the fringes of the protests or following them.
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.