SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. — President Donald Trump retweeted a video Sunday that appeared to show people from The Villages protesting while a man shouts “white power.”
While many people said they still support the president, some said they didn’t like that he retweeted the video, and fear it is giving The Villages a bad reputation.
In the video, a man is seen driving a golf cart displaying pro-Trump signs and flags when he shouted the racist slogan, which is associated with white supremacists.
The video also shows anti-Trump protesters shouting “Nazi,” “racist” and profanities at the Trump backers.
Shortly afterward, Trump deleted the tweet that shared the video.
William Beck was there for the pro-Trump rally when he said someone on the opposing side called the Trump supporters racist, and shouted, “Where is your hood?”
That’s when a man eight carts ahead responded with chants of “white power.”
“I think that’s wrong because we’re all in this together,” Beck said. “I don’t care what color you are it doesn’t matter.”
The incident happened on June 14, the president’s birthday. However, the controversy didn’t heat up until this weekend, when Trump retweeted the video with the message, “Thank you to the great people of The Villages.”
White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement that “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.”
Linda Gazzetta, a resident in The Villages, said she doesn’t condone the racist message.
“I thought it was horrible,” she said. “I didn’t think it was right for him to do that.”
Rudy Darden facilitates the Valencia College Peace and Justice Institute. He said the video showcases hate speech because the words “white power” have been used to historically harm and oppress minorities. Hate speech is protected by the first amendment.
“This particular tweet speaks to something that many black and brown communities have said have always been a part of his agenda,” Darden said.
For Darden, a Marine Corps veteran, it’s more personal.
“To see the highest person in my command say and do what he’s doing… it’s hurtful and it’s not in keeping with the highest standards of the military,” Darden said.
The president’s decision to highlight a video featuring a racist slogan comes amid a national reckoning over race following the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans. Floyd, a black Minneapolis man, died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes.
Protests against police brutality and bias in law enforcement have occurred across the country following Floyd’s death and there has also been a push to remove Confederate monuments, an effort Trump has opposed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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