President Donald Trump tweeted a message commemorating Charles Evers, the older brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers and a prominent figure in Mississippi politics. The message courted controversy immediately: The president has in recent weeks tweeted support for flying Confederate flags has continued to disparage the Black Lives Matter movement, and has faced heated criticism for sending federal agents into Portland to quell protests there.
Evers was a Republican who courted controversy in recent years for supporting Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend Charles Evers. Charles was a trail blazer in politics and a fearless leader, alongside his brother Medgar, for Civil Rights,” the president wrote.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend Charles Evers. Charles was a trail blazer in politics and a fearless leader, alongside his brother Medgar, for Civil Rights. pic.twitter.com/rL4bLbCY1D
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2020
The president has often been accused of stoking racial tensions. These criticisms have taken the spotlight over the last several weeks given the president’s response to protests against racial injustice and police brutality that have raged since George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by police officers in Minneapolis. Federal agents in Portland and in Chicago have tear-gassed peaceful protesters in recent days as well and face allegations of kidnapping and detaining protesters against their will.
Earlier today, the president claimed he’s done more for the black community than any other president.
“We did criminal justice reform. We passed criminal justice reform. Something Obama and Biden were unable to do. We did opportunity cities. We did the greatest if you look at opportunity Zones, nobody has ever even thought of a plan like that,” he said, in part, during today’s coronavirus briefing. “Prior to the China plague coming in, floating in, coming into our country and really doing terrible things all over the world, we had the best African-American, Hispanic American, Asian-American, almost every group was the best for unemployment. The unemployment numbers were the best.”
In May, the president suggested he faces worse treatment from the press than Abraham Lincoln, the United States’ 16th president.
“I am greeted with a hostile press, the likes of which no president has ever seen. The closest would be that gentleman right up there,” Trump said during Fox News’s virtual town hall, pointing up to Lincoln Memorial for emphasis.
“They always said, ‘Lincoln, nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse,” he added.