Trump Criticized for Invoking George Floyd's Name While Touting Latest U.S. Jobs Report
Joe Biden called Trump's comments "frankly despicable"
In a comment deemed callous and insensitive by his critics, President Donald Trump said Friday morning that "hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that's happening for our country" while celebrating a small rebound in U.S. employment figures.
"A great day for him, a great day for everybody," Trump, 73, said in a speech from the White House Rose Garden. "This is a great day for everybody. This is a great day in terms of equality."
The president made the comment while touting a Labor Department report that says the country's unemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent in May, down from 14.7 in April. For black Americans, the unemployment rate went up.
The U.S. Labor Department reported in late May that more than 38 million people lost their jobs since March. In response, the federal government sent a one-time $1,200 stimulus check to most Americans while the country's economy went largely on hold for almost three months.
Trump insinuated Friday morning that Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, would be proud of the slight U.S. economic turnaround.
Floyd's killing has led to one of the largest waves of protests against racial inequality and police brutality in modern U.S. history. The president contended that an economic turnaround "is the greatest thing that can happen for race relations.”
Trump's comments were quickly blasted by his critics, led by presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president, Joe Biden.
"He was speaking of a man who was brutally killed by an act of needless violence — and by a larger tide of injustice — that has metastasized on this President’s watch. George Floyd’s last words — 'I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe' — have echoed across our nation," Biden, 77, said. "For the President to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd — is frankly despicable."
Ridicule for the president's comments echoed throughout Congress, as well. “Keep George Floyd’s name out of your mouth until you can say Black Lives Matter,” Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted at Trump.
Trump called Friday's jobs report “the greatest comeback in American history," and the phrase "Mission Accomplished" began trending on Twitter as critics used the George W. Bush-era phrase to blast Trump for celebrating the relative economic blip.
Despite the 2.5 million jobs gained last week, the Washington Post reports the current 13.3 rate is still the worst the U.S. has seen since World War II. The Associated Press reports some economists believe the unemployment rate could remain in the double digits through November.
Friday's jobs report was bolstered by 1.2 million workers in the leisure and hospitality industries, such as restaurants, who reopened as shutdowns across the country started to be lifted, according to the Post.
Those figures — and what many see as an unrelated, offensive tie-in Trump made in the wake of criticism that he has ignited racial tensions across the country — left the president's critics dumbfounded.
"And the fact that he did so on a day when black unemployment rose and black youth unemployment skyrocketed tells you everything you need to know about who this man is and what he cares about," Biden said.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.