President Donald Trump invoked George Floyd’s name during a Friday bill signing ceremony touting the latest jobs report, which exceeded economists’ expectations.
“We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully George is looking down and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. (It’s) a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody,” Trump said during a White House Rose Garden event before signing a piece of legislation devoted to small business loan flexibility.
“This is a great, great day in terms of equality,” Trump added.
Floyd’s death in police custody has sparked massive, mostly peaceful protests across the country. Despite the arrests of all four officers involved, protests have continued over issues of systemic racism and police brutality.
Trump’s comment about Floyd “looking down” was introduced by unwieldy and unprepared remarks, in which he devoted a significant portion to praising the job law enforcement was doing to quell demonstrators and urging some states to activate the National Guard.
Speaking in reference to Floyd, Trump maintained that “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. They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement.”
But at no point did Trump explicitly bring up whether the source of that problem — a lack of just treatment by law enforcement — was systemic racism. In fact, Trump reiterated the need to “dominate” any violent protesters, despite rising concern in cities across the nation about violent arrests and alleged assaults by police on demonstrators.
And as protesters in the wake of Floyd’s death continue across the country to demand racial equality and policing reform, Trump’s solution has been to, once again, campaign by crediting his administration’s efforts to boost the economy.
When Trump sat down to sign the bill, the PPP Flexibility Act, he shushed reporters trying to ask him questions.
“What’s happened to our country and what you now see, it’s been happening, is the greatest thing that can happen for race relations, for the African American community, for the Asian American (community), for the Hispanic American community, for women, for everything — because our country is so strong and that’s what my plan is,” Trump said before signing the bill.
The President did not answer questions about Asian American and African American unemployment, which was less robust than other minority groups.
For the second month in a row, fewer than half of black Americans were working, with only 49.6% of the population employed, up less than 1 percentage point from April. The last time such a small share were working was in 1983.
Asked by PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor how those job numbers were a victory, Trump tossed his hand and remarked: “You are something.”
Though the event was billed as a news conference, he didn’t answer any questions from the media.