Trump's Response to #BLM Protests
Updated: Mar 12
Dear Asian Youth,
Remember back in early May when armed protesters stormed the Michigan statehouse and yelled into officers’ faces because they so desperately wanted a haircut? Remember how they thought the stay-at-home order was encroaching on their constitutional right to leave their homes and get their nails done without a mask? Because I remember, and I also will never forget President Trump calling them “very good people”.
Later that month, an innocent Black man by the name of George Floyd was murdered, causing the streets to break out into riots and protests. Black people fought for their right to a peaceful existence and demanded justice for not only Floyd, but all victims of police brutality. Trump called these protestors “thugs,” a racially-charged word that cruelly perpetuates the stereotype of Black people being inherently violent. The use of this word against Black people dates back to the Civil Rights Movement, when the media repeatedly branded the activists as “thugs” to undermine the legitimacy of their actions and frame their civil disobedience as a threat to society. These implications are present today, as too many people exclusively use the word “thugs” to describe Black people. In the words of Columbia University professor John McWhorter, “the truth is that thug today is a nominally polite way of using the N-word...It is a sly way of saying there go those black people ruining things again.”
Why is it that our president was so understanding of the people who were protesting for haircuts, yet he couldn't fathom why George Floyd’s death would spark such a strong outcry for justice? Trump’s offensive tweets are only the tip of the iceberg. His actions in response to the George Floyd protests are appalling, as he proves that he is more concerned with appealing to his voters than addressing the systematic racism and police brutality that have been plaguing the nation for centuries.
In the same tweet where he calls protestors “thugs,” he threatens the protesters by stating “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. And unfortunately, he wasn’t bluffing. With Trump’s approval, the police have only escalated the situation by exerting unnecessary violence against peaceful protesters through the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash grenades. In other words, Trump is doing everything in his power to end the protests by sweeping the greater underlying issues under the rug, even if it means using excessive police brutality, the very issue we are trying to fight. Once again, the reason he is working so hard to end these protests is to gain more support from the ignorant people who will be voting for him in the upcoming election. His immoral intentions are due to the fact that most of his voters have never–and will never be–affected by police brutality nor systemic racism. They don’t care for change; they only want the protests to stop so that they don’t have to be affected by these issues. Only then can they return to their lives of privilege and ignorance and pretend like innocent men and women weren’t brutally murdered for the color of their skin. By encouraging the police to use violence to end these protests, Trump is acting like he is solving the problem. In reality, he is only reinforcing racist mindsets while ignoring that the protests are solely products of the real problems: police brutality and systematic racism. These are the real issues at hand, and by refusing to address them, Trump is only causing more racial tension and division among the people.
Trump’s determination to appeal to his supporters is even better exemplified in the tear gassing of Lafayette Park on June 1st, in which many gathered for a peaceful protest. Despite the clearly peaceful protest taking place before the assigned curfew, the U.S. Park Police and National Guard were suddenly directed by administration to clear the area. As a result, officers started attacking protesters with smoke canisters, irritants, explosives, batons, and horses. The reason for such sudden action came to light when Trump walked through the cleared area before stopping at St. John’s Church and posing with a Bible for multiple photos. The Bible is a prop he brought along to appeal to religious people and in turn, advance his political ambitions and agenda. This is made clear by the fact that he did not pray nor did he even acknowledge the church in any way. He simply took the photos and left. On top of using religion as a political weapon, he disregarded the peaceful protester’s First Amendment right to assemble and forcibly expelled them through unnecessary violence to make this glorified propaganda. This shows how little he cares about actually ending white supremacy and police brutality. He silenced these people fighting for justice because he doesn’t care about them, but then ensured that he looked like a go