President Trump lashed out at the Black Lives Matter movement in twin tweets Thursday, accusing one of its members of treason and lamenting reported plans for a new mural in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan that honors the cause.
Trump, who has said he supports peaceful protesters, has increasingly articulated disdain for the protests that continue across the country after the death of George Floyd. His comments Thursday were among his most aggressive attacks on the movement that rose up in recent years against racial profiling and police violence.
“Black Lives Matter leader states, ‘If U.S. doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it.’ This is Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!” Trump tweeted.
A minute later he wrote: “Told that @NYCMayor Bill de Blasio wants to paint the fabled & beautiful Fifth Avenue, right in front of Trump Tower/Tiffany, with a big yellow Black Lives Matter sign. ‘Pigs in a Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon,’ referring to killing Police, is their chant. NYC Police are furious.”AD
The first tweet seems to be a reference to a Fox News interview with Hawk Newsome — identified as the president of the Greater New York Black Lives Matter — that has been replayed many times on the network since it aired Wednesday.
Pressed on whether he believes violence is necessary to achieve the movement’s goals, Newsome answered, “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. All right? And I could be speaking . . . figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It’s a matter of interpretation.”
In the interview, he said the goal was to protect lives, not to hurt police officers, and called criticism of those efforts hypocritical. “We talk about uplifting and upholding the Second Amendment, but it seems to be the hypocrisy of America that when black people start talking about arming themselves and defending themselves, [that] talk is ‘violent’,” Newsome said in the segment. “But when white people grab assault rifles and go to our nation’s, their state capitals, it’s all good.”AD
Newsome responded directly to Trump’s tweet, calling the president “a terrible and racist leader.”
“Black people riot we are terrorist. White people do it and they are ‘sports fans‘ celebrating a championship,” Newsome tweeted. “Don’t be mad bc I point out your hypocrisy.”
Trump has accused at least 12 American citizens of treason since he became president. But some Trump critics argue that the president’s defense of Confederate symbols is tantamount to supporting treason. An anti-Trump group, the Lincoln Project, began airing an ad last week called “Treason,” which shows Trump supporters dressed in and carrying the Confederate flag.
The second tweet appears to reference a story published in the New York Post on Wednesday that reports New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) wants to commission a mural on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower similar to the one Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) had painted on a street that leads to the White House.
The chant, “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon,” was heard at a Black Lives Matter protest in 2015 and has been a source of controversy ever since. The protest organizers at the time denied that it was intended to incite violence and was rather a commentary on police who kill civilians.
Trump’s vilification of the movement comes as the public increasingly supports its mission. According to a recent Washington Post/Ipsos poll, more than 60 percent of Americans believe black people are treated less fairly by police than white people, think the country needs to continue working for equal rights and disapprove of how Trump has handled the protests after Floyd’s death nearly a month ago.
The survey also found that 57 percent of Americans believe Trump is biased against black people while 40 percent do not.
Trump frequently boasts that he has done more for African American than any other U.S. president, but the poll found 92 percent of registered black voters would support Democrat Joe Biden if the election was held today.