You’d think all that money could buy a history lesson.
In leaked audio obtained by Recode, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees Tuesday that Trump’s incitement to violence — hosted by, and spread via Facebook — could remain on the site because it only encouraged “excessive policing.” So-called excessive policing is, of course, what led to the killing of George Floyd.
The phrase used by Trump in a tweet and Facebook post — “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” — first gained prominence in the 1960s when, according to NPR, it was used by Miami police chief Walter Headley. Headley notoriously explicitly embraced police brutality, saying in a 1967 news conference that “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality.”
None of this appears to bother Zuckerberg.
“We basically concluded after the research and after everything I’ve read and all the different folks that I’ve talked to that the reference is clearly to aggressive policing — maybe excessive policing — but it has no history of being read as a dog whistle for vigilante supporters to take justice into their own hands,” Recode reports him as telling his staff.
In other words, Zuckerberg is making a distinction between calls for police violence and calls for non-police violence. The former is acceptable on Facebook, according to Zuckerberg. The latter is not.
And make no mistake, police around the country appear to have heard Trump’s call. Video after video shared online shows police brutalizing peaceful protesters and members of the press.
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This appears to be what Trump hoped for with his “shooting” comment, and it is now what Zuckerberg is defending.