Conservative commentator and TV hostTucker Carlsonhas called the protests over the death ofMinnesotamanGeorge Floyd“a form of tyranny” and “a threat to every American” – while bracketing incidents of police violence in with “officious birdwatchers”.
Hundreds of people have taken to the streets since the death of Mr Floyd, who died on Monday after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. Footage of his arrest, which clearly shows him repeatedly telling the officer he cannot breathe, sparked clashes in Minneapolis between protesters and the police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
On hisFox Newsshow Wednesday night, Mr Carlson showed several clips of shocking violence by people protesting Mr Floyd’s death, including apparent looting and attacks on police cars. He was careful to point out that the item was not intended to justify police violence, but that rioting demanded another level of condemnation.
“We want to be clear, we’re not showing you these pictures to defend the behaviour of individuals on theMinneapolispolice department. We’re not. We are defending society itself. Rioting is the one thing you don’t want.
“Ugly opinions,police brutality, officious birdwatchers, rude entitled ladies walking their dogs in big city parks – all of that is bad, but none of it is nearly as bad as what you just saw.
“The indiscriminate use of violence by mobs is a threat to every American of all colours and backgrounds and political beliefs,” he said. “Democracy cannot exist when people are rioting. Rioting is a form of tyranny. The strong and the violent oppress the weak and the unarmed. It is oppression.”
Why are we tear-gassing people protesting George Floyd’s death?
His item follows weeks of protests at state capitols across the US by mainly white crowds demanding that governors lift their shelter-in-place orders and reopen their economies.
These events have seen sometimes hundreds of people arrive at public buildings pointedly displaying guns, including assault-type weapons; none has yet seen police arrive with riot gear or use tear gas to disperse people.
A member of one group, Reopen North Carolina, recently posted a video to Facebook saying he and his comrades arewilling to kill peopleif necessary to release themselves from government tyranny – meaning orders to close businesses where people are likely to congregate and spread and contract the coronavirus.
Mr Carlson also laid into CNN for calling the people he showed in Minneapolis “protesters” and not “rioters”, accusing the rival news network of “welcoming” the behaviour. In a chyron, the programme said that “news outlets like CNN are fanning racial flames”.