Twitter Says Trump's Tweet Encouraging Military to Shoot Protesters Violates Terms of Service

By Matt Novak on at

President Donald Trump sent out a tweet overnight encouraging violence against protesters in Minneapolis who are demanding justice for the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man whose life was taken by a white police officer, as captured on video by a bystander. Twitter has placed a warning on Trump’s tweet, acknowledging that it violates the social media company’s terms of service. But Twitter is keeping the tweet up, even with the violation.

“I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right,” Trump tweeted shortly before 1:00 a.m. ET on Friday.

Trump continued with a rant about “thugs” who are supposedly harming the memory of George Floyd by protesting against police brutality. The four officers involved in the killing of Floyd have not been charged, including Derek Chauvin, the cop who put his knee on Floyd’s neck for at least five minutes while the man suffocated to death, screaming “I can’t breathe.”

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. 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. Thank you!” Trump continued in another tweet that has since been flagged as violating Twitter’s terms of service.

The phrase, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” was coined at a press conference in December of 1967 by Miami police chief Walter Headley during that year’s uprising by black residents. Trump, a longtime white supremacist, was 21 years old in 1967.

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” the new warning from Twitter says above Trump’s tweet.

The warning also appears if you view the tweet from Trump’s Twitter page and users need to click on “View” to see the tweet, as you can see from the screenshots below.

Twitter’s Communications team explained that the tweet now has a warning because of Trump’s “glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.”

Trump has a long history of encouraging violence against Americans, including an infamous speech in 2017 where he said that police should be more rough with suspects when they’re placing them in a squad car.

“As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it,” Twitter explained. Twitter did not respond to an email from Gizmodo early Friday morning.

Roughly 500 National Guard troops have reportedly been deployed to Minneapolis, though it’s not clear if they’re on the ground yet. Protests have popped up in other parts of the country since yesterday, including Denver, New York, Los Angeles, Columbus, Portland, and Louisville. But Minneapolis is still where the most dramatic scenes have unfolded over the past three days.

Protesters in Minneapolis took over the Third Precinct police station last night, likely the first time a police facility has been captured by average citizens in U.S. history. The building was abandoned by police after protesters breached barricades outside. Some protesters subsequently set the building on fire.

“Shortly after 10:00 pm tonight, in the interest of the safety of our personnel, the Minneapolis Police Department evacuated the 3rd Precinct of its staff,” Minneapolis Police said in a statement.

Protesters in Minneapolis have been taking goods out of a nearby Target store, something that has gotten a great deal of attention from international news since the police were nowhere to be found in the area yesterday afternoon. What TV cameras didn’t show, however was that many of the goods taken from the Target store have been set up for free distribution for people who are suffering in a nearby parking lot.

No one knows what the rest of the summer holds, but with Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman dragging his heels on bringing charges against the cops who killed George Floyd, it’s safe to say this isn’t going to end anytime soon.

And just this morning, police in Minnesota arrested a black CNN journalist Omar Jimenez live on air. It’s not clear why Jimenez was arrested.

Things are going to get so much worse before they get better.

Featured image: Getty Images