In a sit-down with President Donald Trump on Thursday, Fox News’ Harris Faulkner asked him about his response to protests and unrest in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd.
“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump wrote on Twitter on May 28.
Reporters quickly pointed to the source of the phrase, used in 1967 by Miami’s mayor Walter E. Headley, who had a history of racial bigotry, according to historians. Twitter slapped a label on Trump’s tweet for violating rules against “glorifying violence.”
In the interview, conducted during the president’s trip to Dallas, Faulkner said, “I’m Harris on T.V., but I’m a black woman. I’m a mom. And you know… and you’ve talked about it, but we haven’t seen you come out and be that consoler in this instance. And the tweets, ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’ Why those words?
Trump responded, “So, that’s an expression I’ve heard over the years, and…”
“Do you know where it comes from?” Faulkner interjected.
“I think Philadelphia – the mayor of Philadelphia,” Trump said.
Faulkner then said, “No. It comes from 1967. I was about 18 months old at the time. … But it was from the chief of police in Miami. He was cracking down, and he meant what he said. And he said, ‘I don’t even care if it makes it look like brutality I’m going to crack down, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.'”
She added, “That frightened a lot of people when you tweeted that.”
Trump responded, “Well, it also comes from a very tough mayor, who might have been police commissioner at the time, but I think mayor of Philadelphia named Frank Rizzo. And he had an expression like that, but I’ve heard it may times from – I think it’s been used many times.”
He added, “It means two things – very different things. One is, if there’s looting, there’s probably going to be shooting, and that’s not as a threat, that’s really just a fact, because that’s what happens. And the other is, if there’s looting, there’s going to be shooting. They’re very different meanings.”
Faulkner also asked Trump about another expression that was used in the late 1960s — that of “law and order.” Richard Nixon used the term in his campaign for president in 1968.
“We also have to keep our police and our law enforcement strong,” Trump said. “They have to do it right. They have to be trained in a proper manner. … Again, the sad thing is that they are very professional. But when you see an event like that, with the more than eight minutes of horror — that is eight minutes, really, of horror. It’s a disgrace.
“And then people start saying, well, are all police like that? They don’t know. Maybe they don’t think about it that much. It doesn’t make any difference. The fact is, they start saying, ‘Well, police are like that.'”
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