Whitmer says Trump's call with governors on protests was 'deeply disturbing'

Posted at 1:10 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 13:17:57-04

(AP/WXYZ) — President Donald Trump told the nation’s governors that most of them are “weak” and called for tougher crackdowns on violence as protests rage across the nation.

Related: More than 100 arrested as large crowd defies curfew in downtown Detroit on Sunday night

Trump spoke to governors on a video teleconference with law enforcement and national security officials.

He told them they “have to get much tougher” amid nationwide protests and criticizing their responses, saying: “Most of you are weak.”

Related: Things remained calm on the first night of curfew in Grand Rapids

He also chastised them for failing to use the National Guard more aggressively, saying they’re making themselves “look like fools.”

Attorney General Bill Barr was on the call and told governors they have to “dominate” the streets and control, not react to crowds. He’s calling on them to “go after troublemaker” and use “adequate force.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released this statement after his comments:

“Right now our nation is hurting. Americans are in pain, and desperate for leadership from the White House during one of the darkest periods in our lifetimes. This morning I took a few moments to read a powerful essay written by our former president, Barack Obama, about how we can make this moment a turning point for real change in our country. I felt hopeful and inspired in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time. Then I joined a call with my fellow governors and the current president that was deeply disturbing. Instead of offering support or leadership to bring down the temperature at protests, President Trump told governors to ‘put it down’ or we would be ‘overridden.’ He said governors should ‘dominate’ protesters, ‘or you’ll look like a bunch of jerks.’ The president repeatedly and viciously attacked governors, who are doing everything they can to keep the peace while fighting a once-in-a-generation global pandemic.

“The president’s dangerous comments should be gravely concerning to all Americans, because they send a clear signal that this administration is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division, which I fear will only lead to more violence and destruction. We must reject this way of thinking. This is a moment that calls for empathy, humanity, and unity. This is one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history, but as Americans, we must remember our enemy is racial injustice, not one another. Let us heed the powerful words of President Obama today to ‘channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action.’ It’s time for all of us to pull together and do the hard work of building a nation that works for everyone.”

Hundreds of people were arrested in Detroit over the weekend as three days of protests happened. Other protests happened in Grand Rapids in Lansing, but turned more violent with fires set and windows smashed.