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‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts’: The history behind Trump’s latest outburst of racist bigotry

NPR reports:

Responding to clashes between protesters and police in Minneapolis following George Floyd’s death, President Trump took to Twitter Friday morning to denounce demonstrators and wrote “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” That phrase goes back to the civil rights era, known to have been invoked by a white police chief cracking down on protests in the 1960s and a segregationist politician.


Twitter took an unprecedented step Friday in limiting the public’s ability to view the president’s tweet threatening shooting, saying it “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.” The tweet is hidden unless a user clicks to display it, and users cannot like or reply to it.

In 1967, Miami police Chief Walter Headley used the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” during hearings about crime in the Florida city, invoking angry reactions from civil rights leaders, according to a news report at the time.

“He had a long history of bigotry against the black community,” said professor Clarence Lusane of Howard University.

“The NAACP and other black organizations had for years complained about the treatment of the black community by Miami police. At this hearing, in discussing how he would deal with what he called crime and thugs and threats by young black people, he issued this statement that the reason Miami had not had any riots up to that point, was because of the message he had sent out that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ ” Lusane said. [Continue reading…]

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