Donald Trump’s son Eric appeared to refer to Black Lives Matter protesters as “animals” during a rally in Tulsa.
“We will win this together,” Eric Trump said to cheers from the crowd at his father’s first re-election campaign rally in months on Saturday. “We’re going to keep the moral fabric of this country, because when you watch the nonsense on TV, when you see these animals literally taking over our cities, burning down churches, this isn’t America. That’s not what Americans do.”
Standing with his wife, Lara, Eric Trump stated the protesters represent “the smallest fraction of our society” and that the majority of Americans “do not like that kind of behaviour”. He also promised to work to protect religious liberty and the Second Amendment.
It wasn’t immediately clear which church Eric Trump was referring to. It might have been the 200-year-old St. John’s Church, where a fire was set in the basement during protests near the White House on 31 May. The church’s father said that the blaze destroyed much of the nursery but was otherwise contained.
Another similar incident happened at the First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs in Mississippi, which was virtually burnt to the ground on 20 May, almost a week prior to the start of nationwide protests.
I am heartbroken and furious. In Mississippi, a church was just burned to the ground. They had been trying to open services. There was graffiti on the lot which read “Bet you stay home now you hypocrites.”— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) May 21, 2020
What is this pandemic doing to us? We need prayer for this country. pic.twitter.com/TdGHqs9evv
Local authorities believed that the fire was set intentionally because the church had challenged coronavirus restrictions on religious gatherings. A spray-painted message was found near the building that read, “I bet you stay home now you hypokrits.” Aside from that, there have been no other reports of churches burning down in the country recently.
Black-led protests against racial discrimination and police brutality flared up across the United States following the in-custody death of black Minnesota man George Floyd on 25 May. In the early days, the demonstrations often grew into riots and clashes with police and were marred by looting and arson attacks, but the deployment of additional police and state National Guard troops helped contain the violence.