You’d think Donald Trump would have more sympathy for looters, being a looter himself. The president has helped himself to money from the U.S. Treasury, using political power to direct public money to his personal businesses. It’s not as visual as a riot, but until 2017 it would have been regarded as equally criminal.
But no, he seems to think they deserve the death penalty: “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” he said on Twitter about the protesters in Minneapolis. “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.”
The Trump years have confronted all Americans with stark contrasts in the treatment of crime depending on the status of the criminal. The day before the police killing of Floyd, the president and his supporters were voicing passionate concerns for the alleged maltreatment of Michael Flynn by the justice system. Then a helpless man is choked to death on a public street in full public view and—well, he was no choirboy, the president’s supporters explain.
Every public official in Minneapolis and Minnesota has condemned the violence in connection with the protests after the Floyd killing. That violence looks to have been started by outside activists, acting on their own agenda. The CBS affiliate in Minneapolis has reported that locals did not recognize the troublemakers. One person caught on camera smashing windows was a lone white man wearing a professional-looking anti-tear-gas mask.