President Donald Trump retweeted a message in which conservative provocateur Candace Owens attacked the character of George Floyd, whose death in police custody has spurred widespread anti-racism protests.
In the message shared by the president, conservative radio host Glenn Beck interviews Owens about Floyd’s death, alongside the message: “I don’t care WHAT George Floyd did. The officer should have never treated him like that and killed him! But we still must ask: Is he a HERO? BLEXIT founder @RealCandaceO gave her thoughts: ‘The fact that he has been held up as a martyr sickens me.'”
“This is a guy with a very long record and a very long criminal record,” Beck said.
Owens describes Floyd as a symbol of the “broken culture in black America today” and asserted that “he was not a good person.”
Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, after a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes.
Friends, family, former teachers, and colleagues praised him after his death as a “gentle giant,” who moved to Minneapolis to turn his life around after a stint in prison.
“Knowing my brother is to love my brother,” Philonise Floyd, George’s brother, told CNN.“He’s a gentle giant. He don’t hurt anybody.”
Christopher Harris, a close friend of Floyd, told The Guardian, “he was looking to start over fresh, a new beginning,” Harris said. “He was happy with the change he was making.”
Video of the footage, in which Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe,” has spread across the internet, spurring the most widespread popular protests in the US for a generation.
Trump is facing mounting opposition for his response to the unrest. Instead of seeking to unify the country, say critics, the president has sought to portray the protests as instigated by left-wing extremists, and has demanded that authorities “dominate” the protests.
The president has condemned the police actions that led to Floyd’s death in remarks Friday, saying,”Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender or creed.
But the president was also accused of disrespecting Floyd’s memory when he claimed that Floyd was “looking down” and rejoicing in “this great day” over better than expected employment figures.
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, described Trump’s remark as “despicable.
“George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ echoed all across this nation and quite frankly around the world,” said Biden.
“For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd, I frankly think is despicable.”