President Donald Trump said he spoke to George Floyd's family on Thursday, but Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd said the president brushed him off repeatedly during their conversation. Philonise said the conversation was short and Trump never gave him the opportunity to speak. Floyd died in police custody Monday in Minneapolis, and the police officer responsible has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
During an interview with Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC Saturday, Philonise described the conversation with Trump as "so fast" and the president "didn't give me the opportunity to even speak," reports BuzzFeed. "I was trying to talk to him but he just kept like pushing me off like, 'I don’t want to hear what you’re talking about.'"
Philonise said he told Trump he wanted to see justice served in his brother's death. "I just told him, I want justice. I said that I couldn't believe that they committed a modern-day lynching in broad daylight," he said through tears. "I love my brother. I'm never going to see him again."
During a meeting with executives at the White House Friday, Trump said he spoke with Floyd's family on Friday and called his death a "terrible, terrible thing that happened." Trump said he "expressed the sorrow of our entire nation for their loss" to Floyd's family. "I stand before you as a friend and ally to every American seeking justice and peace, and I stand before you in firm opposition to anyone exploiting this tragedy to loot, rob, attack and menace," Trump added.
Since Floyd's death on Monday, protests broke out across the country, with protesters clashing with police and hundreds of people getting arrested. On Friday night, protests in Washington, D.C. led to the White House being locked down briefly. Trump praised the Secret Service for its performance, but said if protesters turned violent, they could have faced "the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons." In a speech at the Kennedy Space Center, Trump said his administration supported the peaceful protest.
"We support the right of peaceful protesters, and we hear their pleas. But what we are now seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with justice or peace," Trump said, later calling Floyd's death a tragedy. "It should never have happened. It has filled Americans all over the country with horror, anger, and grief."
Philonise also called for peaceful protests in a CNN interview Thursday. "I can't stop people right now because they have pain," he said. "They have the same pain that I feel. I want everything to be peaceful but I can't make everybody be peaceful. It's hard."