Washington — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appealed to President Trump on Sunday to "just stop talking" after demonstrators descended on dozens of U.S. cities Saturday for the fifth day to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and clashes became more violent as day turned to night.
"There are times where you should just stop, and this is one of those times," Bottoms said on "Face the Nation." "He's making it worse. This is not about using military force. This is about where we are in America. We are beyond a tipping point in this country, and his rhetoric only inflames that, and he should sometimes just stop talking."
Bottoms said the president's tweets over the weekend and his rhetoric surrounding the demonstrations that have taken place nationwide in response to Floyd's death and those of other African Americans by law enforcement are "reminiscent of Charlottesville, where President Trump just made it worse."
Mr. Trump said in 2017 following clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, that there were "very fine people on both sides." The president's comments at the time led to widespread backlash.
Tens of thousands of people across the nation took to the streets again Saturday night to protest Floyd's death after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes as he cried out that he couldn't breath.
The officer caught on camera with his knee pressed against Floyd's neck, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with murder Friday.
In some areas, the demonstrations led to violent confrontations with police as mayors in more than two dozen cities issued curfews and the National Guard was deployed. Police fired rubber bullets at protesters and members of the press in Minneapolis, and in Washington, D.C., officers fired pepper spray at demonstrators outside the White House.
Protesters who converged on downtown Washington threw water bottles and rocks at officers, set fire to vehicles and trash cans, and vandalized buildings.
Mr. Trump called Floyd's death a "terrible thing" and encouraged protests over the killings of African Americans by law enforcement to be "peaceful." But on Twitter, he has criticized demonstrators and said Saturday that "liberal governors and mayors must get much tougher" or the federal government will "step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our military."
Bottoms issued a passionate plea to protesters in Atlanta on Friday after CNN's headquarters was vandalized and businesses were looted, saying the events were not a protest, but "chaos," and urging those involved to go home.
On Sunday, she said the recent demonstrators have differed from those the city has experienced in the past, including during the civil rights movement.
"But our organizers in Atlanta, many of whom don't agree with me quite often as mayor, were very clear that this by and large, actors being violent, was not an Atlanta-based protest," Bottoms said. "It looked different racially in our city than our normal protest looked. It was a different group."