‘Please, keep your mouth shut’: Houston police chief tells US President Trump over George Floyd protests

The police of the Houston city in the US state of Texas has advice for President Donald Trump after his comments to governors following the murder of an African American at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Houston Police chief Art Acevedo’s reaction came after Trump, who last week tweeted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” urged governors to get tough on the violent protests following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody in Minneapolis. A white officer has been charged and three others fired.

Widespread protests have raged all over the United States following George Floyd’s death on May 25, starting with Minneapolis. Protesters have attacked and vandalised stores as well as police property.

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“Let me just say this to the President of the United States, on behalf of the police chiefs of this country: Please, if you don’t have something constructive to say, keep your mouth shut,” Acevedo said while peaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

President Donald Trump in a video conference call with governors on Monday had called them “weak” for not being able to control the growing nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, suggesting that they use the National Guard to “dominate” protesters.

Trump also praised the National Guard response in Minneapolis, saying it “cut through [protesters] like butter” while calling on state leaders to adopt more brutal tactics to put down the uprisings.

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“You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate,” Trump said on the call, according to reports.

Acevedo also accusing Trump of putting men and women in their early 20s at risk.

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“This is not about dominating. It is about winning hearts and minds. And let’s be clear, we do not want to confuse kindness with weakness. We don’t want ignorance to ruin what we have managed to do to restore normalcy,” the Houston Police chief said.

Acevedo quoted from the Hollywood film Forrest Gump, saying “if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say it.”

“Because that’s the basic tenet of leadership and we need leadership now more than ever.. and it’s time to be presidential and not try to be like on The Apprentice. This is not Hollywood, this is real life and real lives at risk,” he said, referring to the popular reality show that starred Trump.

Floyd, who was in handcuffs at the time, died after police officer Derek Chauvin ignored bystander shouts to get off Floyd and Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe.

The Minneapolis police officer was charged last week with third-degree murder in Floyd’s death, and three other officers were fired.

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Bystander video showed Chauvin holding his knee on Floyd’s neck despite the man’s cries that he can’t breathe until he eventually stopped moving.

A medical examiner on Monday classified Floyd’s death as a homicide, saying his heart stopped as police restrained him and compressed his neck, in a widely seen video that has sparked protests across the US.

(With agency inputs)

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