Dangerous to label ‘decent Americans as racist’, Donald Trump warns

Donald Trump told a roundtable in Texas that it was dangerous to label Americans as bigots Credit: Alex Brandon/AP

US President Donald Trump has warned against labeling “tens of millions of decent Americans as racist or bigots” as anti-racism demonstrations continuefollowing George Floyd’s death in police custody.

Mr Trump, speaking at a roundtable discussion in Dallas, Texas, said Americans “are good and virtuous people”.

He said: “We have to work together to confront bigotry and prejudice wherever they appear, but we will make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racist or bigots.”

Mr Trump repeatedly threw his support behind police, saying those who used excessive force were “bad apples”.

Rather than addressing police violence against black people, Mr Trump expressed sympathy for officers who are targeted while on duty.

He did, however, outline a measure which may offer some hope to those campaigning against police brutality, saying he would pursue establishing a national use-of-force standard.

The roundtable came hours after the country’s top military officer said he was wrong to accompany Mr Trump on a walk through Lafayette Square in Washington that ended in a photo opportunity at a church.

Army General Mark Milley said his presence “created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics”.

“I should not have been there,” the Joint Chiefs chairman said in remarks to a National Defence University commencement ceremony.

Mr Trump’s walk through the park on June 1 to pose with a bible at a church came after authorities used pepper spray and flash bangs to clear the park and streets of largely peaceful protesters demonstrating after Mr Floyd’s death in Minnesota.

Elsewhere, protesters including Dakota and Ojibwe Indians pulled down a statute of Christopher Columbus outside the Minnesota State Capitol, while a city council in New Zealand removed a statue of a British naval officer accused of killing indigenous people.