President Trump on Friday described the death of George Floyd as a "terrible thing" and said he believed protests over his death should be "peaceful." Floyd was handcuffed by a white officer and pleaded for air while the officer kneeled on his neck, an interaction that was captured on video after his death. Four officers in the incident were fired, and on Friday, Derek Chauvin was taken into custody and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Mr. Trump said during a Friday afternoon roundtable that he had spoken to Floyd's family.
"I thought it was a terrible thing. A terrible picture," the president said. "I think that it's sad in so many ways from the standpoint of the family. When you look at George Floyd and his family. And you see what that's done to them just a terrible thing. He was in tremendous pain obviously. And couldn't breathe. It was very obvious to anybody that watched it. It was a very, very sad thing for me to see that."
Mr. Trump said he did not know the history behind the phrase he tweeted Friday morning — "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." In 1967, when robberies and civil unrest troubled black Miami neighborhoods, the white police chief Walter Headley warned, "I've let the word filter down that when the looting starts, the shooting starts."
After Twitterabout glorifying violence, the White House reiterated the message of the president's tweet — even though by then many online had pointed out the quote's racially charged history.
"Well I've heard that phrase for a long time, I don't know where it came from, where it originated ..." Mr. Trump said.
CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid interjected, "In 1967, the Miami police chief used it."
"Well I don't know I've also heard it from many other places, but I've heard it for a long time, as most people have," the president continued. "And frankly it means when there's looting people get shot, and they die."
The president acknowledged that there were some "good people" present at the protests in Minnesota who simply wanted to speak out against what happened to Floyd, after tweeting overnight about "thugs."
"Well certainly there were a lot of different people and there were good people too, and they were protesting. And they were protesting for the right reason, they were protesting in honor of a man, George Floyd, where something happened that shouldn't have happened, in my opinion from what I've seen," the president said. "Certainly something happened that shouldn't have happened. And, yeah, you had a lot of people out there that were protesting out of sorrow, and then you had people that got out of control. Some people."
Mr. Trump said the Justice Department is looking at the matter "very strongly."