In the summer of 2017, chaos ensued on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched in the streets, provoking violence and eventually murdering counter-protestor Heather Heyer.
In the aftermath, with Charlottesville smoldering, President Donald Trump assured Americans that some of the people marching with Nazis were "very fine people."
Flash forward three years later.
Police officers murdered George Floyd—an unarmed Black man accused of forgery—by holding him down while one officer kept his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly 10 minutes as Floyd begged for air.
Uprisings ensued in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Police sprayed protestors with mace and rubber bullets. Protestors eventually overpowered them, setting the evacuated third precinct headquarters ablaze and vandalizing multibillion dollar businesses like Target and AutoZone (though unverified evidence indicates the destruction of AutoZone was instigated by a police officer.)
Trump was far more unequivocal in his tweets against people protesting murder than he was in his condemnation of people supporting a genocidal regime.
I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either th… https://t.co/s4Pn3rn6y8— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1590727994.0
....These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim… https://t.co/1KhT776DPw— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1590727994.0
Trump announced his intention to send the National Guard and expressed willingness to kill United States citizens, tweeting:
"Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"
The origin of the phrase "When the looting starts, the shooting starts" can be traced back to racist Miami Police Chief Walter Headley in 1968. The term was used again the same year by the infamous pro-segregation Governor of Alabama, George Wallace.
Twitter pointed out that Trump's tweet was glorifying violence, and soon flagged it with this message.
The citation came just days after Twitter issued an embedded fact check to counteract Trump's false claims about mail-in voting. Trump was so livid at being fact checked by Twitter, that he issued an executive order attempting to crack down on social media sites that don't express enough fealty to him.
Twitter's communications staff posted about the decision.
We have placed a public interest notice on this Tweet from @realdonaldtrump. https://t.co/6RHX56G2zt— Twitter Comms (@Twitter Comms) 1590736660.0
This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the las… https://t.co/O3E9MYAuBg— Twitter Comms (@Twitter Comms) 1590736660.0
We've taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept t… https://t.co/mJeOUfcS8e— Twitter Comms (@Twitter Comms) 1590736660.0
As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Co… https://t.co/U3aST4Ddea— Twitter Comms (@Twitter Comms) 1590736660.0
Trump was none too happy with the explanation.
Twitter is doing nothing about all of the lies & propaganda being put out by China or the Radical Left Democrat Par… https://t.co/EPr0qe251i— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1590750635.0
Because Trump's tweet inciting violence can't be retweeted on the site, the official White House account quoted it directly, soon receiving the same citation.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Wa… https://t.co/rMA4FCWWZb— The White House (@The White House) 1590754659.0
People on Twitter were disgusted at the Trump administration's calls to exacerbate violence, and its apparent call for shooting American protestors.
Trump went from ‘Make America Great Again’ to ‘When the Looting starts, the Shooting starts’ in less than four year… https://t.co/ImNg26U7FM— NoelCaslerComedy (@NoelCaslerComedy) 1590729238.0
President Trump saying, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts." 7 shot in Louisville, shots fired in Denver… https://t.co/ilcVC9ztvz— Jeff Chang (@Jeff Chang) 1590730711.0
Trump would evidently be happy with a repeat of the fatal shootings at Kent State by the National Guard 50 years ag… https://t.co/pE5FnHjrOk— Laurence Tribe (@Laurence Tribe) 1590760909.0
Trump just threatened to have the military shoot the "THUGS" in Minneapolis. He makes everything worse. He is racist at his core.— Wajahat "Social Distance Yourself" Ali (@Wajahat "Social Distance Yourself" Ali) 1590728454.0
Between the 100 thousand Americans dead from the pandemic, 41 million new unemployment claims, unrest in the streets, and the White House's retaliation against truth, the picture of Trump's America has never been more calamitous.
Donald Trump threatening to shoot American Citizens, CNN journalist crew being arrested in Minneapolis while only f… https://t.co/2NnGUQF8Yj— A Dr. of some sort (@A Dr. of some sort) 1590750995.0
In Donald Trump’s America: POC can be murdered indiscriminately Journalists can be killed & arrested There are… https://t.co/jRUwikefUV— Bleeding Heart Liberal Marine (@Bleeding Heart Liberal Marine) 1590758337.0
Trump’s America is the cable correspondent having to change from his anti-pandemic mask to his anti-teargas mask on live TV— Amanda Katz (@Amanda Katz) 1590722890.0
Trump’s America. Pandemic decimating communities. Cities burning. Threats of unleashing the army on citizens. Mass… https://t.co/YQqe5uaTG5— Alex Cole (@Alex Cole) 1590758661.0