WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump responded on Friday to violent protests that erupted in Minneapolis over the fatal arrest of George Floyd, recorded on video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck, by attacking the city’s young Jewish mayor, Jacob Frey, over Twitter.
Trump wrote that he will “send in the National Guard” to handle the violence, unless “the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control,” and described him as showing “a total lack of leadership.”
Trump also tweeted that looters in Minneapolis would be shot, causing twitter to hide one of his tweets with a warning that it is “glorifying violence.”
The president’s attack, which comes after a third night of arson, looting and vandalism in the city following the rage sparked by Floyd’s death, is the second personal attack against Frey in less than a year. Previously, Trump attacked Frey, who has been leading the city since January 2019, over something completely different: a “Make America Great Again” rally.
In October 2019, ahead of Trump’s arrival to a rally in Minneapolis, Frey announced that the city will not cover the security costs, estimated at over half a million dollars. The Trump campaign has a history of not paying local cities for expenses that result from hosting MAGA rallies, and the Center for Public Integrity has estimated that these cities lost more than $800,000 as a result.
Frey, fearing a similar situation in his city, demanded that either the Trump campaign would have to directly pay the security expenses ahead of time, or the venue would have to decide whether or not to hold the event – insisting that the city would not give the money.
Trump responded by calling Frey “a rotten” and “a lightweight” mayor. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, also attacked Frey, calling him a “resister” and blaming him of trying to prevent Trump’s supporters from seeing the president. Frey, for his part, said that “Trump’s message of hate will never be welcome in Minneapolis.”
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Following his first feud with Trump, Frey told The Daily Beast that he received anti-Semitic messages and threats from supporters of the president, and added that he thinks the United States has seen a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism since Trump’s election in 2016.
Frey became the second Jewish mayor in the history of the city after winning a four-year term in the November 2018 election, and had previously served as a member of the city council for five years. Prior to that, he worked as a lawyer in the city.
Frey, who grew up in a Reform Jewish family in northern Virginia, is affiliated with Reform Judaism and specifically with two Reform synagogues in the Minneapolis area – Temple Israel and Shir Tikva.
On Friday, amidst growing demands by protesters in his city that the four policemen involved in Floyd’s killing be arrested and prosecuted, Frey responded to Trump’s attack, and specifically to being described as “very weak.”
“Let me say this, weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else during a time of crisis. Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis.”
Frey said on Thursday during a press conference that his city needs unity and peace at the moment. “If you’re feeling that sadness, that anger, it’s not only understandable, it’s right. It’s a reflection of the truth that our black community has lived,” he stated.
Frey added that “While not from lived experience, that sadness must also be understood by our non-black communities. To ignore it, to toss it out would be to ignore the values that we all claim to have, that are all the more important during a time of crisis.”