U.S. President Donald Trump bragged over the weekend that he watched “every move” the Secret Service made to protect him on Friday night while hundreds of Americans rallied outside the White House to protest his response to the death of George Floyd.
He failed to mention that he spent nearly an hour of his Friday night in the White House’s fortified bunker in a rare security response that typically only occurs in the face of a terrorist threat. The Secret Service made the decision to whisk Trump, his wife Melania and his son, Barron, off to the bunker, the New York Times reports.
Trump’s critics responded to news of his bunker visit with outrage and mockery, particularly after Trump boasted about his defenders and ridiculed the protesters in several tweets on Saturday.
Many Twitter users accused Trump of “hiding” from the American citizens whom he’s supposed to lead through a time of crisis. They also accused him of refusing to acknowledge the anger that has spurred sweeping protests across the United States in recent days after the death of Floyd, the latest unarmed Black man to be killed in an encounter with police.
Floyd died in Minneapolis, Minn., last week after a police officer pinned him down with a knee on his neck for several minutes.
“Please, I can’t breathe,” he said in a video of the incident.
Floyd’s death came just two weeks after police barged into the home of Breonna Taylor, a Black EMT in Louisville, Ky., and shot her dead in a dispute over a search warrant. It also occurred shortly after video emerged from the February slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black jogger who was ambushed by two white vigilantes in Georgia. The protests have also been fuelled by rage over the actions of Amy Cooper, a white woman who falsely told police that a Black birdwatcher was “threatening” her in Central Park last week.
“The country is literally falling apart and our ‘leader’ is no where to be found,” one user tweeted.
Another user called Trump a “coward” and a “bunker boy” — one of several bunker-related nicknames that circulated on Twitter Monday, along with “Bunker Don” and “Bunker Trump.”
Many people shared an image of the White House with its lights off on Sunday night after a weekend filled with protests in Washington, D.C.
Critics suggested that the photo was a symbol of Trump’s response to police brutality against African-Americans.
Several people recirculated an old Trump tweet from 2014 in which he criticized then-President Barack Obama‘s leadership.
“It’s almost like the United States has no President,” Trump wrote in the old tweet. “We are a rudderless ship heading for a major disaster. Good luck everyone!”
Others blasted Trump for pushing a conspiracy theory that the protesters were somehow illegitimate — a claim he’s made repeatedly, without evidence. Trump suggested over the weekend that the protesters were being run by Antifa and moved to label the group a terrorist organization.
“These are ‘Organized Groups’ that have nothing to do with George Floyd,” Trump tweeted after his bunker visit. He presented no evidence to back up his claim.
The protests outside the White House have occasionally turned violent, with some among the crowd setting fires and throwing rocks. Seventeen individuals were arrested during protests on Sunday, the Washington Post reports. Most of them were locals.
Thousands have been arrested across the United States after several days of protests marred by cases of looting, vandalism, break-ins and the burning of police cars.
Trump has attempted to present a strong image in public, but he has said he’s worried about his safety during the protests, the Associated Press reports.
“We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us,” Biden said. “The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest. It should not drive people away from the just cause that protest is meant to advance.”
He also called out the biggest day on his 2020 calendar: election day, when all Americans will decide whether they want four more years of his leadership.
“NOVEMBER 3RD!” Trump tweeted.
“Go back to your bunker, loser,” Star Trek actor and activist George Takei tweeted in response.