J.B. Pritzker accuses Trump of making George Floyd aftermath worse
By Jim Hagerty
CHICAGO – Gov. J.B. Pritzker accused President Donald Trump Monday of making the aftermath of George Floyd’s death worse with what he called “inflammatory” and “dangerous” rhetoric about the nationwide protests.
Pritzker unloaded on Trump during a conference call with several governors that was leaked to media Monday morning.
“I’ve been extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that’s been used by you,” Pritzker said. “It’s been inflammatory, and it’s not okay for that officer to choke George Floyd to death.”
Pritzker’s remarks are in response to Trump’s directive that governors must “dominate” protestors. The president also accused governors of being “weak,” a word he already used to describe Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey after Floyd was killed in broad daylight by four city police officers after allegedly trying to pass a phony $20 bill.
“You have to dominate,” Trump said. “If you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”
Trump charged the state leaders to make arrests, saying, “You have to track people. You have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again.”
Pritzker, who’s spent the majority of his time this year in Chicago because of the pandemic, noted that law enforcement throughout the state has been on high alert and he’s activated the National Guard, which has added fuel an already hot fire of civil unrest.
“The rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House is making it worse,” Pritzker said. “People are feeling real pain out there and we’ve got to have national leadership in calling for calm and making sure that we’re addressing the concerns of legitimate peaceful protestors. That will help us to bring order.”
Trump responded, barely stopping short of a personal zing.
“OK, well thank you very much, J.B.,” the president said. “I don’t like your rhetoric much either because I watched it with respect to the coronavirus. I don’t like your rhetoric much either. I think you could’ve done a much better job, frankly. But that’s okay. And you know, we don’t agree with each other.”
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), released a statement after the conference call, calling the conversation with Trump deeply disturbing, accusing the president of being on the attack during one of the “darkest periods in our lifetime.”
“The president’s dangerous comments should be gravely concerning to all Americans, because they send a clear signal that this administration is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division, which I fear will only lead to more violence and destruction,” she said. “We must reject this way of thinking. This is a moment that calls for empathy, humanity, and unity. This is one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history, but as Americans, we must remember our enemy is racial injustice, not one another. Let us heed the powerful words of President Obama today to ‘channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action.’ It’s time for all of us to pull together and do the hard work of building a nation that works for everyone.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she doesn’t know why Whitmer would be dismayed, and that all Trump did was tell governors to “do their job.”
“It is their responsibility to police their streets,” McEnany said. “They have quite clearly, many of them, failed to do their job.”
Pritzker said during a press conference Monday that he would like to see Trump speak to the pain felt by Americans–especially black Americans, who are still reeling from centuries of systemic racism.
“This president has fanned the flames instead of bringing peace and calm,” Pritzker said. “It is usually the job of the president to stand up in these circumstances to bring down the temperature. But that’s not what this president has done. I wish he would hold his words. If he isn’t going to do that, he shouldn’t say anything at all.”