In late May 2020, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him down and kneeled on his neck. Protests against police brutality — some violent — spread swiftly across the U.S. and other countries, and numerous cities were placed under curfew.
Less than two weeks later, some Snopes readers questioned whether U.S. President Donald Trump had truly stated in a speech about employment statistics that it was a “great day” for Floyd, suggesting that Floyd was “looking down and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.'”
Trump did make these comments, drawing immediate backlash.
Floyd died in police custody on May 25. Video of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck until he lost consciousness went viral and sparked international outrage.
Trump’s commentary came during an event at the White House Rose Garden in which he discussed U.S. job numbers in the month of May. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, stay-at-home orders have resulted in massive unemployment. He appeared to veer off prepared remarks, stating:
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. They have to receive it. We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully George is looking down right now 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 everyone. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality. It’s really what our Constitution requires and it’s what our country is all about.
Those remarks can be seen in the following video clip:
"Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race…Hopefully #GeorgeFloyd is looking down right now & saying this is a great thing that's happening for our country…in terms of equality" pic.twitter.com/7rNQ4EX8Gq
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) June 5, 2020
Trump has been criticized for using inflammatory rhetoric that escalated a growing crisis in Minneapolis, while an outpouring of public anger, protests, and riots consumed that city in the immediate aftermath of Floyd’s death. The official White House Twitter account posted a tweet that threatened “when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” Twitter hid the tweet for violating platform rules against glorifying violence. Trump has also been criticized for his threats to send in the U.S. military against protesters.
Because Trump did indeed make the comment about Floyd in question, we rate this claim “Correct attribution.”