US President Donald Trump has drawn criticism from the lone Black Republican in the United States Senate after retweeting a video showing one of his supporters in Florida shouting “white power” at people protesting against his administration.
The video, retweeted by the president on Sunday, shows Trump protesters and supporters shouting profanities at each other in a sprawling retirement community. After a protester calls a Trump supporter a racist, the man, driving a golf cart, responds by raising his fist and shouting “white power”.
The phrase is a common rallying cry among white supremacists.
“There’s no question that he should not have retweeted it and he should just take it down,” US Senator Tim Scott told CNN’s State of the Union programme.
“It was so profanity-laced, the entire thing was offensive. Certainly, the comment about the white power was offensive,” the South Carolina Republican added. “It’s indefensible. We should take it down.”
The tweet comes on the heels of Trump’s hostile response to protests against racial injustice that have spread across the US following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes in Minneapolis in late May.
In the tweet, which has since been deleted, Trump wrote: “Thank you to the great people of The Villages,” referring to the retirement community, which he visited last year.
In a brief statement, White House spokesman Judd Deere said: “President Trump is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.”
Trump has been accused of racism by legislators in relation to his tweets in the past, including for attacks on Black legislators and for telling four Democratic congresswomen of colour that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came”.
In 2017, Trump was roundly criticised following a deadly Unite the Right rally attended by alt-right, white supremacist groups, and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, when he said there were “very fine people on both sides”.
Trump’s Sunday retweet, which was on his account for about four hours, was quickly criticised by civil rights groups and opponents of the president.
Speaking on the CBS “Face the Nation” programme on Sunday, Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund said the incident “is not about the president taking it down. This is about the judgment of the president in putting it up.”
“It’s about what the president believes and it’s time for this country to really face that,” she added.
Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, tweeted: “Just when you think Trump cannot be more vile or racist, he outdoes himself.