The US president angers the country over a news conference speech that touted his “great” leadership and invoked the name of George Floyd in talk of economic success.
In a news conference on June 5, Trump avoided addressing the ongoing calls of tens of thousands of protesters across the nation. Instead, he touted his “great” leadership, declared that the US defeated COVID-19, campaigned for the 2020 election, and invoked the name of Floyd amid his speech on the US economy.
“Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country,” Trump said as he referenced job creation and a “succeeding” economy under his administration. “This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”
After being killed at the hands of the police officers on May 25, many are questioning the president’s audacity to use Floyd’s name in a speech to praise the country that has sustained discriminatory policies against people of color since its founding.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called Trump’s remarks “despicable.”
The president also failed to recognize rising unemployment rates for Black people and Asians in the US. According to the Economic Policy Institute, African Americans have the highest unemployment rates nationally.
Despite Trump’s boastings, the job market and financial situation of many Americans remains grim and the country is seeing the largest boom in unemployment since the 1930s.
According to US Labor Department numbers, Americans lost more than 20.5 million jobs in April.
The president’s response to ongoing protests alarms the international community and poses risk to the nation
As days roll on and advocates for justice continue to press politicians to reconsider the discriminatory complacencies and blatant acts of racism that plague the country, Trump has done little more than threaten protesters and brand them as terrorists.
On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said, “I stand in solidarity with the demonstrations that are happening in the United States. Because obviously we are all very concerned about the authoritarian debate and those authoritarian ways that we are seeing as a response to some demonstrations.”
Observers have criticized Trump for inciting violence and dictating the country with excessive force that has been caught on film. Protesters are sharing countless videos of police brutality, ranging from punching camera crews and shooting rubber bullets at peaceful protesters, to pushing down a non-violent 75-year-old man.
One of Trump’s few references to the protests, that have been largely well-organized and peaceful in the past few days, was yet another promotion of law enforcement “dominating the streets.”
“I hope they also use our National Guard. Call me. We’ll be ready for them so fast their heads will spin. We did it in Minnesota, in Minneapolis we were incredible. They were ripping that place apart.” He added, “I love it. We had such success there. And they were ripping it apart and I called the governor and the National Guard went in and in one night it was over.”
Trump went on to blame the mayor of Minneapolis for the uprising before quickly pivoting to discuss his presidential “success” before what he called the “China plague.” He made sure to emphasize his claim that even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he created jobs.
Trump’s focus on self-proclaimed success in handling COVID-19
Despite the fact that many countries and international institutions have criticized the US for its late and inadequate response to the pandemic, Trump emphasized that the country has done an outstanding job in handling the crisis. He emphasized that the country is in the clear and that all states should open up.
“You’ve gotta open it up! And you do social distancing and you wear masks if you want, and you do things. You can do a lot of things. You’re getting closer together. Even you [gesturing toward the audience], I noticed you’re starting to get much closer together. It looks much better, I must say. You’re not all the way there yet but you’ll be there soon,” Trump said, stressing the importance of business and downplaying the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the country he swore to protect.
Meanwhile, the nation is still confirming more than 2,000 cases of COVID-19 each day and has lost more than 110,000 lives from the virus.
The fact Black communities in the US have faced the most detrimental and deadly impact from the COVID-19 pandemic is not lost on protesters. Many have noted the severity of the issues at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter protests by acknowledging that they are more afraid of the consequences of the country’s systemic racism than the global pandemic.