Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Sunday condemned President Donald Trump’s response to the nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s death, calling it reminiscent of his response to the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
“He should just stop talking,” Bottoms said during an appearance on CNN’s “State Of The Union.” “This is like Charlottesville all over again. He speaks and he makes it worse.”
“There are times when you should just be quiet, and I wish that he would just be quiet,” she added. “Or if he can’t be silent, if there is somebody of good sense and good conscience in the White House, put him in front of the teleprompter and pray that he reads it and at least says the right things.”
“This is like Charlottesville all over again. He speaks and he makes it worse. There are times when you should just be quiet. And I wish that he would just be quiet.”
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) May 31, 2020
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump has condemned Floyd’s death, which happened Monday after a police officer knelt on his neck and two others held him down as he stated repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe. But the president has also stoked tensions by threatening to use military force against people looting during the protests.
“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump tweeted Friday, echoing a racist phrase originally used by an aggressive Miami police chief during civil rights protests in the 1960s.
The president tweeted Saturday that the federal government will “step in” if “Liberal Governors and Mayors” don’t get tougher on non-peaceful protestors, including “using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests.”
Earlier Saturday, Trump tweeted that he watched protesters outside the White House “scream” and “rant” and praised the Secret Service for keeping them at bay.
“Nobody came close to breaching the fence,” he wrote. “That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least. Many Secret Service agents just waiting for action. ‘We put the young ones on the front line, sir, they love it, and … good practice.’”
On Sunday, Bottoms blasted Trump’s remarks, comparing them to comments he made in the wake of the Charlottesville rally, which drew criticism from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. “I think there is blame on both sides,” the president had said, referring to rallygoers and counter-protesters.
“He’s making it worse,” Bottoms told CBS’s “Face The Nation” in an interview that aired later Sunday. “This is not about using military force. This is about where we are in America. We are beyond a tipping point in this country. And his rhetoric only inflames that.”
During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said Trump’s tweets threatening violence were “not constructive,” calling on the president to “lead with compassion.”
“I spoke with the president yesterday morning, and he and I had a good conversation about what are the next steps,” Scott said. “Mr. President, it helps us when you focus on the death, the unjustified — in my opinion, the criminal ― death of George Floyd.”