Barbara Sprunt in NPR:
President Trump told reporters Friday evening that he didn’t know the racially charged history behind the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Trump tweeted the phrase Friday morning in reference to the clashes between protesters and police in Minneapolis following George Floyd’s death. It dates back to the civil rights era and is known to have been invoked by a white police chief cracking down on protests and a segregationist politician.
I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right…..
….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!
In 1967, Miami police Chief Walter Headley used the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” during hearings about crime in the Florida city, invoking angry reactions from civil rights leaders, according to a news report at the time.