WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump retweeted a video showing one of his supporters in Florida shouting “white power” at protesters of his administration, drawing rebukes from allies and adversaries as protests continue in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
The video on Twitter, which was later deleted from the president’s feed, showed Trump protesters and supporters in Florida shouting profanities at each other. After a protester called a Trump supporter a racist, the man responded by raising his fist and shouting, “white power.” The slogan is often used by white supremacists.
“There’s no question that he should not have retweeted it and he should just take it down,” U.S. Senator Tim Scott, the Senate’s only Black Republican, told CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
In the tweet, Trump wrote: “Thank you to the great people of The Villages”, a retirement community in Florida he visited last year.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said the president “is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.”
The tweet comes on the heels of Trump’s hostile response to protests against racial injustice engulfing the United States following the death of Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes in Minneapolis.
“It was so profanity laced, the entire thing was offensive. Certainly, the comment about the white power was offensive,” Scott added. “It’s indefensible. We should take it down.”
The Florida Democratic Party accused Trump of thanking “white supremacists” for their support and called on Floridians to deny him the swing state’s support in the November election.
Trump has been accused of racism by lawmakers for attacks on Black lawmakers and for telling four congresswomen of color that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Vice President Mike Pence refused repeated opportunities to say the phrase “Black Lives Matter” on Sunday, telling CBS’ “Face the Nation” program: “I really believe that all lives matter and that’s where the heart of the American people lies.”
Pence added that he views the Black Lives Matter movement as having a “political agenda of the radical left” that calls for cutting off funding for police departments and tearing down monuments.
(Reporting by David Morgan and Chris Sanders; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)