The Current

Trump's 'looting' tweet should come as no surprise — racism in U.S. runs far deeper: scholar

Ricky L. Jones, a professor of Pan-African Studies, says repeated killings of black people are not individual incidents, but show U.S. must face up to "overall system of white supremacy."

U.S. must face up to 'overall system of white supremacy': Ricky L. Jones

Protesters and police face each other during a rally for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Tuesday. Floyd, an unarmed black man, died when he was pinned to the ground by a white police officer kneeling on his neck on Monday. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)

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U.S. President Donald Trump's tweets about the Minneapolis protests, which the state's governor expressed concern over, should come as no surprise, says scholar Ricky L. Jones.

"Donald Trump is a representation of white supremacy and racial domination in the country," said Jones, professor and chair of Pan-African studies at the University of Louisville.

"Anybody who is surprised that the president of the United States would use that type of language has not been paying attention to what's been going on in America for some years now," he said.

Donald Trump, who earlier in the day had expressed sorrow over the death of George Floyd, blasted those who were looting during protests. Trump's phrasing earned a warning on Twitter. (Twitter)

But while Trump may be a "champion of that ideology," he is "not the only purveyor of it," Jones told The Current's Matt Galloway.

"If that were the case, once we get rid of Donald Trump — whether it be this year, or when he terms out in 2024 — everything will be fine," he said.

"But it's not going to be fine in America, and I think we need to get our arms around that fact."

Minneapolis police driven from 3rd Precinct as protesters set station on fire

3 years ago
Duration 0:49
The city endured a third night of protests and violence after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in police custody.

Trump tweeted that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," quoting a former Miami police chief who coined the phrase in a 1967 interview about cracking down on crime. The tweet was in response to days of protests in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who was pinned to the ground by a white officer kneeling on his neck during his arrest. Four officers at the scene of the incident were fired Tuesday. Derek Chauvin, seen in bystander video kneeling on Floyd's neck, was arrested and taken into custody Friday afternoon.

Twitter hid the president's tweet behind a notice warning that it had violated its rules on glorifying violence, but kept it visible for readers who clicked through.

Protesters have since clashed with police, looted stores and set fire to the 3rd Precinct police station.

Jones said he didn't think burning down a police station "answers anything," but he worries the narrative will shift to rioting and looting being unacceptable, without attention on the root cause.

"We have to have, I think, a recognition that we are not dealing with singular instances — we're dealing with an overall system of white supremacy where one group of people in this country has always felt they have the right to think, to know and decide for everybody else," he said.

"We cannot simply sit back and say that nothing is wrong with a system like that."

George Floyd’s death sparks days of protests, rioting

3 years ago
Duration 2:00
There are calls for peace and justice in Minneapolis after two nights of protests and rioting following the death of George Floyd while in police custody.

'Black people burying their children'

Floyd's death came on the heels of the shooting deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man out for a jog in Georgia in February, and Breonna Taylor, a black woman fatally shot by police in her home in March

"We are seeing instance after instance after instance of black people burying their children, whether they be 4, 6 or 46, like George Floyd," said Jones.

"If you're black, we cannot learn, we cannot worship, we cannot work, we cannot exercise, we cannot even sleep or birdwatch in peace — and that is a very exhausting existence," he said.

"I think people are just at the end of their rope with trusting the structures of control in the country."

A protester holds a photo of George Floyd on Thursday, near the spot where he died in Minneapolis. (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune/The Associated Press)

He said the conversation should focus less on what happens in Minneapolis in the coming days, and more on the wider fight against racism in the coming decades.

"All of us here as black parents and black people, are trying to create a world that our children can enter into with more safety, decency and humanity," he said. 

"I don't think folks who look like me are as concerned about a police station ... as we are what this country is going to look like going forward for our children, so we don't have to continue to bury them."

Written by Padraig Moran, with files from Thomson Reuters. Produced by  Howard Goldenthal.

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