May 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

The times Trump has advocated for violence

Photo: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Recent revelations that former President Trump allegedly called for protesters gathered outside the White House in 2020 to be shot are part of a pattern of calling for violence that the 45th president followed throughout his years in office.

Driving the news: "Can't you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?" Trump allegedly asked about the demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd, according to the forthcoming memoir by former Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

State of play: Trump made statements condoning and encouraging violence throughout his presidency.

  • July 2017: During a speech to law enforcement officers in Long Island, New York, Trump seemingly encouraged police officers to be rough with people they were arresting, per ABC News. "Please don't be too nice," he told the audience.
  • August 2017: In the aftermath of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump failed to unequivocally condemn the violence and said "many sides" were to blame, failing to distinguish between those who participated in the "Unite the Right" rally and those who showed up in opposition to it.
  • October 2018: While speaking at a Montana campaign rally, Trump publicly praised Montana's then-Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) — the state's current governor — for previously assaulting a reporter. "Any guy that can do a body slam, he is my type!" Trump said.
  • October 2019: A New York Times report outlined various strategies Trump had allegedly deliberated to keep migrants away from the U.S. southern border, including a water-filled trench with snakes or alligators and shooting migrants in the legs to slow them down.
  • May 2020: Trump used violent rhetoric when referring to protests in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, tweeting, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." The phrase has a racist history going back to police brutality against Black Americans in the 1960s, per the New York Times.
  • June 2020: Trump threatened to use the U.S. military to quell Black Lives Matter protests across the country. "If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said.
  • August 2020: Trump expressed interest in sending the National Guard to Portland, Oregon, to confront protesters, per Vox. "We could fix Portland in, I would say, 45 minutes," Trump said.
  • September 2020: Trump lauded law enforcement officers for killing Michael Forest Reinoehl, a self-described Antifa member suspected of killing a right-wing activist the previous month. "That’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution," Vox reported.
  • September 2020: When offered the chance to unequivocally condemn white supremacist violence during the first presidential debate, Trump failed to do so, instead telling the far-right Proud Boys that they should "stand back and stand by."
  • January 2021: At a rally preceding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Trump repeated false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen and told supporters that "we're going to walk down to the Capitol," adding that "you'll never take back our country with weakness."

Go deeper: ... Scoop: Esper says Trump wanted to shoot protesters

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