A visit to the site of a national tragedy is something that a US president is called upon to do – listening to Americans affected by an event that has caught the country’s attention and calls for national unity.
Trump expressed his sympathy for the White House’s dense gates and invoked Floyd’s name during an event centered on American jobs. He has posed for a photo in a church that was damaged by looters after peaceful protesters were removed from the area with anti-theft devices, such as pepper balls. And he held a roundtable with representatives of national law enforcement agencies, a Republican sheriff and two Republican prosecutors to hear their side on the issue.
But Trump’s efforts to counter the protests have been widely criticized and divided.
Vice President Mike Pence has held a series of hearings with members of the African-American community.
“He didn’t give me a chance to talk,” Floyd said. “It was difficult. I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept pushing me, like, “I don’t want to hear what you’re talking about.” ”
A senior administration official said a department on race and national unity issues was being seriously considered. And Secretary of Home Affairs and Urban Development Ben Carson – the only black member of Trump’s cabinet – hinted in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that “we’re going to hear from the President this week about this.” detail. ”
But so far, Trump has had little direct exposure to members of the American public who disagree with his policies since taking office.
In general, however, the White House does not put the President in a position to be challenged by everyday Americans who oppose his political views. In fact, it is very rare for a modern American president to be publicly treated by everyday Americans who disagree with the policies of their administration. Each meeting, round table and event is carefully curated by visitors controlled by White House staff.
However, there is precedent for US presidents to meet with activists and political leaders, or, at least in one case, to visit the sites of mass protests based on racial tensions.
President John F. Kennedy met with political leaders on the same day as Martin Luther King Jr. gave his speech “I have a dream” on the steps of the Lincoln Monument. President George H.W. Bush has been criticized for waiting five days to visit Los Angeles following the riots in Los Angeles following the release of police officers involved in the brutal beating of Rodney King. And President Richard Nixon met with anti-Vietnam protesters before dawn at the Lincoln Monument five days after the incident at Kent University in Kent, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire and killed four students protesting the extension of the war. .
Some of Trump’s previous visits to American communities that healed the wounds of the national tragedy have been met with criticism and division.
Kristen Holmes and CNN’s Sarah Westwood contributed to the report.