Donald Trump has claims his banned ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ tweet was a public safety warning rather than a threat. Speaking at a meeting of business leaders at the White House Friday, Trump also denied knowing that the phrase was first uttered by segregationist Miami Police Chief Walter Headley in 1967.

Trump said: ‘I’ve heard that phrase for a long time. I don’t know where it originated from. Frankly it means when theres looting people get shot and they die and if you look at what happened last night and the night before you see that, it’s very common. That’s the way it’s meant.

‘It’s very accurate in the sense that when you have looting like you had last night people get shot and they die, and we don’t want that to happen.’

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President Trump’s tweet was sent in the early hours of Friday in response to ongoing riots and looting in Minneapolis sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Floyd died after Minneapolis Police Department Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. Chauvin and three other cops involved have been fired from their jobs, with Chauvin also charged with murder on Friday.

Trump’s tweet said: ‘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!’

The tweet was later hidden by Twitter for breaking the social media site’s terms by ‘glorifying’ violent. Users can still see it, but they must click a ‘view’ button to do so. Trump has been at war with Twitter all week after it fact-checked two of his messages claiming mail-in ballots encouraged voter fraud.

Trump also spoke of his disgust at the video showing Floyd’s death on Friday, saying: ‘Horrible thing to witness and to watch. It would certainly look like there was no excuse for it.’

The 46 year-old security guard was arrested after allegedly passing a fake $20 bill in a grocery store. He could be heard wheezing ‘I can’t breathe’ in a distressing video clip, with the phrase since becoming the rallying cry for Black Lives Matter protests held in the wake of Floyd’s death.