President Trump had a little something to say about George Floyd and the state of Black Americans, and none of it was good.
In what can only be described as 53 minutes of rambling, Trump delivered a chaotic address perfectly fit for the chaotic week that preceded it. Trump did a victory lap in the White House Rose Garden for the suspiciously positive new unemployment numbers and the reopening of several cities and states–despite the fact that covid-19 continues to kill hundreds of Americans every day, regardless of Trump’s assurance that the United States is “doing well” with vaccines and cures. He signed a bill easing guidelines on covid-19 relief loans for small businesses, but his cheery predictions about the economy and other wild claims—touting himself as an environmentalist, for one—were overshadowed by his arrogant comments about the economic success of Black Americans during his tenure and the absurd assertion that George Floyd would be happy with the state of America today, less than two weeks after his death.
“Nobody’s ever done for the black community what President Trump has done,” Trump said, boasting investment into historically black colleges and dubious opportunity zones that act as more of a boon to predatory developers than working-class black people.
But apparently feeling confident in his shout out to Black Americans, Trump invoked George Floyd, the black man whose death at the hands of the Minneapolis police has invigorated a larger movement. Floyd’s death sparked protests worldwide against police brutality and racism, and the protests have in turn encouraged police officers across the United States to act with impunity against protesters. There have been several incidents of the police violently targetting protesters as well as journalists, lawyers, and medical personnel. The narrative of unruly protestors, looters, and so-called agitators has dwindled significantly to anyone paying attention, thanks to copious footage of the police willfully attacking protesters, unwitting spectators, and 75-year-olds.
But the overwhelming evidence that it is the police, not protesters, who are the root of the violence that has led to hundreds of arrests and rigid curfews is lost to several governors, mayors, and, of course, President Trump, who celebrated police aggression against protesters and has encouraged the use of military force to quell dissent. In his Rose Garden speech Friday, Trump thanked the secret service, the D.C. police, and the national guard for their continued presence and protection against the furious masses.
“The national guard was unbelievable, this was like a piece of cake for them,” Trump boasted before suggesting that governors who have yet to request their assistance in the midst of daily protests are foolish. “Call in the national guard, call me, we’ll have so many more people—you have to dominate the streets.”
Trump followed this up with a mindboggling assessment of what George Floyd would think of the day’s news (emphasis mine):
Equal justice under the law must mean that every american recieves equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcment regardless of race, color, gender, or creed, they have to receive fair treatment. We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for this country. It’s a great day for him, it’s a great day for...everybody. It’s a great day for everybody. It’s a great, great day in terms of equality.
It’s unclear what exactly Floyd is supposed to be pleased about: The unemployment numbers? Governors calling in the National Guard? Police treatment of protesters? HBCU funding?
Only an egomaniac like Trump would delude himself into thinking that Floyd is happily gazing down upon the same country that allowed him and countless others like him to die at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. And only an egomaniac like Trump would believe that embroiling Floyd’s legacy in America grand re-opening during a pandemic was borderline appropriate.
It’s especially bleak considering this brief interaction Trump had with PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor while signing the new legislation.
“Overall, U.S. unemployment rate fell by one percent,” Alcindor said. “Black unemployment rate went up point-one percent. Asian-American rate went up by point-five percent. How is that a victory?”
Trump shook his head. “You are something else.”
The sentiment is surely mutual.