Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spelled out what she wants to say to President Donald Trump on Friday: “It starts with 'F' and ends with 'U.' "
Lightfoot's thinly veiled message to the president came the morning after Trump threatened to send the U.S. military to Minneapolis to shoot protesters demonstrating this week after George Floyd was killed by a police officer while he was being detained on Monday.
Video of Floyd's death immediately went viral and led to a wave of protests in Minneapolis, and other American cities, this week. Protests in Minneapolis turned violent Thursday night after the city's largest police precinct was set on fire, forcing police officers to abandon the building while the demonstrations were broadcast on livestreams across social media.
Trump called protesters "THUGS" in a tweet Thursday night and claimed he told Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz "that the Military is with him all the way."
"Any difficulty and we will assume control, but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts," Trump tweeted.
The president's post was soon flagged by Twitter, which attached a label to Trump's tweet that said it "violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence."
On Friday, Trump tried to walk back his tweet, writing in a follow-up post, "Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night - or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot. I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means."
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey expressed frustration with Trump's messaging live during a news conference just before 2 am local time, as a reporter read the mayor the president's tweet.
“Let me say this: Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else at a time of crisis,” Frey, 38, said. "Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis. We are strong as hell. This is a difficult time, yes, but you better be damn sure that we’re going to get through this."
Lightfoot also denounced the president's message with her own stern response during a news conference on Friday.
“We see the game he’s playing because it’s so transparent and he’s not very good at it," Lightfoot said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "He wants to show failures on the part of Democratic local leaders to throw red meat to his base. His goal is to polarize, to destabilize local government and inflame racist urges. And we can absolutely not let him prevail."
Then Lightfoot, 57, added that she would "code what I really want to say to Donald Trump," before spelling it out for him.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot after being sworn in as mayor on May 20, 2019
Lightfoot became the Chicago's first black woman ever to be elected mayor after winning a run-off election against longtime city official Toni Preckwinkle last April. Lightfoot, who had never held an elected office before becoming Chicago's top official, also became the city's first openly gay mayor.
A former prosecutor and the one-time head of the Chicago Police Board, Mayor Lightfoot was also the lead on a 2016 city task force that determined racism was a major contributing factor in a number of Chicago Police Department failures and a leading cause for the public's mistrust in the police department.
Those same issues are now playing out this week in Minneapolis in response to Floyd's death — as they have in in Chicago after Laquan McDonald's, in New York City following Eric Garner's, in Texas after Sandra Bland's, in Florida after Trayvon Martin's and countless other cases that protesters argue are deadly examples of a racist abuse of power that's plagued police forces across the country for decades.
The 2016 review of the Chicago Police Department, which Lightfoot led, found that “C.P.D.’s own data gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color."
Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS/Getty Lori Lightfoot at an election-night party in Chicago on April 2, 2019
While critics like Lightfoot see Trump's social media activity as an attempt to fan social divides, the most prominent liberal leaders in the country have previously called on Democrats to take the higher ground when it comes to the outspoken president.
"When they go low, we go high," former First Lady Michelle Obama famously said at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, about four months before Trump was elected president.
But Lightfoot was asked Friday about the former first lady's 2016 quote and made it clear she's done taking the "high" road when it comes to Trump, alleging that he's "using his bully pulpit to foment violence."
“I am not Michelle Obama,” Lightfoot said, according to the Sun-Times. “I will not remain silent while this man cynically tries to turn this incredibly painful moment into one for his own political gain.”