CNN’s Anderson Cooper called out President Donald Trump at length on Monday night, after the president finally made public comments on the protests against police brutality raging across the country. Trump’s address was accompanied by the sound of police using tear gas and rubber bullets to move peaceful protesters away from the White House, clearing a path so the president could walk out of the gates and be photographed holding a Bible in front of a church.
“We are witnessing a failure of presidential leadership at a time when this country, when we the people, need it more than ever, perhaps in our lifetime,” said Cooper in his introduction.
CNN went on to air Trump’s speech — which mentioned the Second Amendment and called on governors and mayors to call in the military to “dominate” the protests — side by side with footage from the scene, as police advanced on non-violent protesters nearby and used tear gas and force to move them.
“So, a lot to unpack there, the president threatening to use unprecedented military force on US soil while offering a preview of it on the streets of Washington,” Cooper said, before criticizing Trump and police for using aggressive force to move protesters on. “The President wanted peaceful protesters — the kind he said he just supports — he wanted them out of the way for his photo op. It was simultaneously outrageous and dangerous.”
“What the president doesn’t seem to know or care is that the vast majority of those protesting, they too are calling for law and order,” Cooper went on. “The president seems to think that dominating black people, dominating peaceful protesters, is law and order. It’s not. He calls them thugs. Who is the thug here, hiding in a bunker, hiding behind a suit? Who is the thug? People have waited for days for this wannabe wartime president to say something. And this is what he says. And that is what he does.”
The protests were spurred by the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. They have grown in scale since late last week, and been marred by violent escalation by police and opportunistic rioters and looting.
“Of course violence is no answer, but people protesting deserve answers,” Cooper said. “And they haven’t gotten them no matter how many black men had been murdered, lynched in prison, mistreated, redlined, blackballed from jobs. We all know it. People protesting in the streets — they know it and they’re tired of it. And we should be too.”
If you’d like to help support protesters fighting for justice for George Floyd, here is a helpful resource.