June 8, 2020
On Friday, June 5, at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump proclaimed it a “great day for equality” and a “great day” for George Floyd following a jobs report that showed unemployment falling, except for African Americans, and ten days of unrest sparked by Floyd’s death.
The president delivered lengthy and often rambling remarks in the Rose Garden that were ostensibly meant to highlight a new jobs report that showed unemployment falling after weeks of the country being shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic, The Hill reported.
But Trump veered frequently from topic to topic, at times addressing the nationwide protests spurred by Floyd’s death. Floyd died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.
“Equal justice under the law must mean every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender or creed,” Trump said. “They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement.”
“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”
Protests, including large-scale protests near the White House, continue across the nation. Law enforcement has erected fencing around the White House complex in recent days, and the area is expected to remain closed to the public until June 10, The Hill notes.
Trump, who has called for governors to “dominate” the streets to quell protests related to police brutality and systemic racism, took no questions on Friday in the Rose Garden. When reporters shouted as he signed legislation to inquire what his plan is to address the issues protesters are raising, Trump held a finger to his lips to quiet them.
Trump touted a better-than-expected jobs report, which showed unemployment at 13.3% in May after hitting a post-World War II high of 14.7% the previous month. Economists had predicted the jobless rate in May would rise as high as 19% as many states remained at least partially locked down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
But for black workers, the unemployment rate was 16.8%, a slight uptick from the 16.7% unemployment rate in April and the highest in more than a decade, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The jobless rate for white workers declined to 12.4% last month.
Friday’s Rose Garden event gave Trump an opportunity to focus on the broader jobs report and spin a positive narrative even as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, the protests, and ongoing economic woes, The Hill said.
Trump is not expected to attend one of the memorial services for Floyd in the coming days. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden may attend one of the events, an attorney for the Floyd family said this week.
Research contact: @thehill