(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump deleted a post he shared earlier on Sunday of a verbal confrontation between anti-Trump protesters and his supporters, including a man who yelled “white power” at the demonstrators.
“Thank you to the great people of The Villages,” the president tweeted Sunday in response to the video, referring to the Florida retirement community where the original post said the clash had taken place.
The tweet was removed from Trump’s account hours after it was posted. “The Villages” had been trending on Twitter as people seized on the tweet.
“President Trump is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement, which didn’t condemn the man’s decision to shout “white power.”
Trump’s tweet fueled accusations he is fomenting racial divisions amid nationwide protests triggered by the May death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. It comes after he tweeted the images on Saturday of 15 people the U.S. Park Service has identified as having been involved in protests in Washington last week.
The beginning of the video shows demonstrators yelling “racist” and “where’s your white hood” at a man and woman riding in a golf cart adorned with Trump signs. “Yeah you got it,” the man responds, pumping his fist. “White power.”
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“This is really not about the president taking it down. This is about the judgment of the president in putting it up. It’s about what the president believes. And it’s time for this country to really face that,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, said on CBS.
The clip also showed protesters yelling “f--- Trump” and “Nazi” at other Trump supporters driving by in golf carts, a common mode of transport at The Villages, a master-planned community for people over 55.
“The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon!!!” Trump tweeted.
Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican in the Senate, earlier Sunday had urged the president to delete the tweet.
“I think it’s indefensible. He should take it down,” Scott said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Also on CNN, John Bolton, the former national security adviser, said he doubted Trump was specifically endorsing the “white power” message, but had been taken in by the sight of people displaying “Trump 2020” signs.
“That’s all he needed to see,” Bolton said. “Not paying attention, not considering all of the implications of information he gets, is typical of Trump.”
‘The Shooting Starts’
Trump has faced criticism about his rhetoric since the protests against police brutality began after Floyd’s death.
In late May, as some of the protests turned violent, Trump tweeted that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” -- a phrase used by a White Miami police chief to threaten civil-rights protesters in the 1960s.
Trump said he didn’t know the origin of the phrase, but on June 11 he told an interviewer on Fox News that he heard it from former Philadelphia Police Commissioner and Mayor Frank Rizzo, whose tenure was marked by police violence against black communities.
During his run for a third mayoral term, Rizzo urged people to “vote white.”
(Updates with NAACP comment from seventh paragraph.)
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