US President Donald Trump has tweeted approvingly of a video showing one of his supporters chanting “white power”, a racist slogan associated with white supremacists.
He later deleted the tweet and the White House said the president had not heard “the one statement” on the video.
The video appeared to have been taken at The Villages, a Florida retirement community, and showed duelling demonstrations between Trump supporters and opponents.
In the video, a Trump supporter riding in a golf cart is heard clearly yelling at the anti-Trump protesters “white power”, while the woman next to him is heard chanting “Trump” repeatedly.
The anti-Trump supporters are heard yelling “racist” as the golf cart slowly drives by.
“Thank you to the great people of the villages,” Mr Trump tweeted, along with the video.
“The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon.”
The tweet has since been deleted and the White House promptly offered a bizarre explanation as to why the president tweeted the video favouring his supporters in the first place.
“President Trump is a big fan of The Villages,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
“He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.”
The White House did not respond when asked whether Mr Trump condemned the supporter’s comment.
“This really is not about the president taking it down. This is about the judgment of the president in putting it up,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defence and Education Fund told CBS.
“It’s about what the president believes and it’s time for this country to really face that.”
The tweet was scrutinised, by not only Democrats, but also Republicans.
Republican Senator Tim Scott said there was “no question” Mr Trump should remove the video.
“I think it’s indefensible,” he told CNN’s State of the Union.
“He should not have retweeted and he should just take it down… It is indefensible,” GOP Sen. Tim Scott reacts to the video President Trump shared of a man driving a golf cart with Trump campaign posters, chanting "white power." #CNNSOTU https://t.co/76wZzokkUw pic.twitter.com/4zk2rFndcP— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) June 28, 2020
Among those who also condemned the retweeting of the video, which was shared by a Twitter account which is anti-Trump, was the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden.
“We’re in a battle for the soul of the nation — and the president has picked a side. But make no mistake: it’s a battle we will win,” Biden tweeted.
Mr Trump’s decision to highlight a video featuring a racist slogan comes amid a national reckoning over race following the deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans.
Mr Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man, died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes.
Today the President shared a video of people shouting “white power” and said they were “great.” Just like he did after Charlottesville.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 28, 2020
We’re in a battle for the soul of the nation — and the President has picked a side. But make no mistake: it’s a battle we will win.
Protests against police brutality and bias in law enforcement have occurred across the country following Mr Floyd’s death.
Just recently Twitter hid one of Mr Trump’s tweets for “glorifying violence”.
When protests ensued in the wake of Mr Floyd’s death, the president tweeted he would send in the National Guard and said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.
There also has also been a push to remove Confederate monuments and to rename military bases that honour figures who fought in the Civil War against the Union – Mr Trump has opposed these efforts.
Mr Trump’s tenure in office has appeared to have emboldened white supremacist and nationalist groups, some of whom have embraced his presidency.
In 2017, Mr Trump responded to clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white nationalists and counter-protesters by saying there were “very fine people on both sides”.
Mr Trump has been directing his re-election message at the same group of disaffected, largely white voters who backed him four years ago. In doing so, he has stoked racial divisions in the country at a time when tensions are already high.
He also has played into anti-immigrant anxieties by falsely claiming that people who have settled in this country commit crimes at greater rates than those who were born in the US.
With Associated Press
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