Michigan Gov. Whitmer: Trump ‘determined to sow the seeds of hatred’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan's first-term governor, has urged social distancing and encouraged peaceful demonstrations but activated the National Guard this weekend to assist at protests in Grand Rapids and Lansing. (Photo courtesy of the governor's office)

LANSING — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer blasted President Donald Trump on Monday, arguing he is “determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division” amid nationwide protests over racism and police brutality. 

Whitmer’s comments followed a conference call with Trump in which he lashed out at governors for failing to control the protests that began peacefully but turned violent this weekend in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing and cities across the country. 

The New York Times, which obtained audio of the call, reports Trump called looters “scum” and said Minnesota, where protests have been especially tense following the death of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, has become “a laughingstock all over the world.”

“You have to dominate,” the Republican president reportedly told governors. “If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time — they’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”

The president added: “You have to arrest people, and you have to try people, and they have to go jail for long periods of time.”

In a statement, Whitmer said Trump also told governors to “put it down” or they would be “overridden,” suggesting he “repeatedly and viciously attacked governors who are doing everything they can to keep the peace while fighting a one-in-a-generation pandemic.”

Michigan’s first-term governor has urged social distancing and encouraged peaceful demonstrations but activated the National Guard this weekend to assist at protests in Grand Rapids and Lansing.

Whitmer said she joined Monday’s call with Trump after reading an essay by former President Barack Obama, who opined that protests over Floyd’s death could “represent a ‘turning point for real change’ as long as activists channel their anger into ‘peaceful, sustained, and effective action.’"

Whitmer urged residents to follow Obama’s advice and “pull together” to “build a nation that works for everyone” but said that instead of “offering support or leadership to bring down the temperature at protests,” Trump went after governors. 

“The president’s dangerous comments should be gravely concerning to all Americans, because they send a clear signal that this administration is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division, which I fear will only lead to more violence and destruction,” she said. “We must reject this way of thinking. This is a moment that calls for empathy, humanity, and unity. This is one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history, but as Americans, we must remember our enemy is racial injustice, not one another.” 

Trump last week asked the U.S. Department of Justice to expedite an investigation into the death of Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer was knelt on his neck for nine minutes following a report of a counterfeit $20 bill.

The president called the footage “shocking” and said he felt “very, very” badly about Floyd’s death but also appeared to condone a violent police response to protesters by tweeting, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Trump later denied he was making a threat

“It means when there's looting, people get shot and they die,” Trump explained. “And if you look at what happened last night and the night before you see that it's very common. And that's the way that was meant.”

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes, in a Sunday statement, said she hopes the public can recognize the difference between protesting and rioting. 

In the process, she angered Republicans by calling Trump supporters racist. More than 2.2 million MIchigan residents voted for Trump in 2016. 

“If you support Donald Trump, you are a racist,” Barnes said. “Here is where it gets tricky and uncomfortable. Donald Trump is a racist, and if being a racist is not a dealbreaker for you, you are the reason Black people are being murdered for being Black.”

Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox called Barnes’ statement “unacceptable” and said it “only makes this tragedy worse.”

“Lavora Barnes’ remarks claim that millions of Michiganders are evil,” Cox said in her own statement. “It implies that they cannot be reasoned with, and that our differences cannot be resolved peacefully through discourse and not violence. I refuse to accept this inflammatory statement from my counterpart.”

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John Briggs
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 3:38pm

Republicans argue that Trump has unlimited power--that neither the courts nor Congress can question him.
If we are still capable of speaking English it should be clear that that understanding of executive power is the textbook definition of fascism.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 12:55am

Wow! You just described the Governor to a T! Great observation, just misplaced.

Mary Sue
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:12am

Both statements you wrote are factually incorrect. Republicans do argue that Trump has limited power and that both the courts and Congress should serve as a check on him- there is ample evidence that Trump is limiting his own power and not acting when perhaps he would act, and his appointments to the courts have fought the Democratic appointments to try to limit the power of the government. And unlimited power is not the textbook definition of fascism- fascism is characterized by the strong regimentation of society and of the economy under a powerful government- policies that would control speech, or that would ban guns, or that would have the government run healthcare, or that would force people to be vaccinated, or that would break society up into classes or races, or that would use violence to achieve political ends- just look at your modern day Democratic party and you can see lots of evidence of fascist beliefs.

Fascism is best thought of as a nationalistic version of socialism, embodied in Hitler’s National Socialist party, which was shortened to the Nazis. Fascist governments like those of Hitler and Italy’s Benito Mussolini (and, to some degree, Spain’s Francisco Franco) in mid-20th century Europe believed in totalitarian control of the economy and oppressive state curtailment of individual liberty. Those are the antitheses of conservative principles. Fascism subsumes all ideology to the goals of the state and the need for state surveillance. The extreme version of conservatism isn’t fascism, as the left wants us to think- that's called libertarianism and can be seen in Republican politicians like Rand Paul.

Let's take a look at a real fascist, Benito Mussolini (the leader of Italy in WWII). Mussolini’s claim that in a fascist regime there was to be “everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state” is of course the totalitarian opposite of the libertarian ideal. Once in power, he inaugurated a major extension of welfare spending and public works projects- not what you would expect from someone on the 'right' but exactly what you would expect from someone on the 'left'.

The sad fact is that fascists have infiltrated and corrupted the once great Democratic Party. The Democratic Party of my youth was tough on crime, wanted government to be efficient, supported labor unions by pushing to bring manufacturing back to America and protect workers from foreign competition, and was strong on national defense. The Democratic Party of JFK and Bill Clinton (the 90's version of him) would be repulsed by what the Democrats like Biden (the current version of him) and Whitmer are pushing.

Get your facts straight and open your eyes.

Thu, 06/04/2020 - 1:55pm

The original 13 Colonies were corporations. Fascism's theory of economic corporatism involved management of sectors of the economy by government or privately-controlled organizations (corporations). Corporate statism, state corporatism, or simply corporatism, is a political culture and a form of corporatism closely related to fascism whose adherents hold that the corporate group which is the basis of society is the state. Then We the People rejected those principles with a revolutionary war. Our government today is of the people, by the people, for the people according to the original GOP leader, president Abraham Lincoln.

Elizabeth Stafford
Fri, 06/05/2020 - 10:42am

Well said!

Kevin Grand
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 5:29pm

"Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes, in a Sunday statement, said she hopes the public can recognize the difference between protesting and rioting."

Chairwoman Barnes, most Michiganians are intelligent enough to recognize people smashing windows, burning everything to the ground and killing others is clearly rioting.

Here's a friendly little hint to help you with your obvious confusion:

Definition of riot
ri·​ot | \ ˈrī-ət\
1a : a violent public disorder specifically : a tumultuous disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled together and acting with a common intent
b : public violence, tumult, or disorder


Definition of protest
pro·​test | \ ˈprō-ˌtest
1 : a solemn declaration of opinion and usually of dissent: such as
a : a sworn declaration that payment of a note or bill has been refused and that all responsible signers or debtors are liable for resulting loss or damage
b : a declaration made especially before or while paying that a tax is illegal and that payment is not voluntary
2 : the act of objecting or a gesture of disapproval resigned in protest especially : a usually organized public demonstration of disapproval
3 : a complaint, objection, or display of unwillingness usually to an idea or a course of action went under protest
4 : an objection made to an official or a governing body of a sport


Regina Weiss
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 6:08pm

Looters are scum. I don't see how anyone could argue otherwise. Is Whitmer and the Democratic Party saying that they support looting and rioting and arson? That's not the Democratic Party of my youth- that would be a radical direction for the party to go and I would think that few would support the Democrats if they started supporting looting, rioting, and arson.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:56am

I think its important to think a bit more critically, rather than dive in to the easiest temptation to just "crush the revolt". Do you seriously believe the governor is supportive of violence (by protesters) in any guise?? Has she ever given us any evidence that she supports such a notion? In my opinion, she was saying that the correct desire to stamp out violence needs to be accompanied by empathy regarding the root causes. The president, with such a militaristic stance, strikes a balance that will not move our culture in the direction of reconciliation. It is his style to induce people to give in to their baser instincts (just name the topic). Please don't give in to the temptation. It is possible to curb the violence AND give voice to the larger number who desire lasting change. Remember, the protesters far outnumber the looters.

Myra Richards
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 1:57pm

Smart people know you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Whitmer knows that, Trump doesn't.

Wed, 06/03/2020 - 7:50pm

She’s a one termer!

Mary Sue
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 6:10pm

It sounds like Trump hates looters and those who are committing arson and theft.... isn't that the correct position to take? I don't understand what Whitmer is saying- is she saying that she loves the looting and rioting and arson and theft? I guess it wouldn't shock me if she did say that- her effort to raise her personal profile in an attempt to accumulate more wealth and power for herself and her family does make her pick strange policy responses just to be on the opposite side of Trump. If Trump says that those who are breaking the law are bad, I guess she is going to say that they are good.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:09am

That's what it "sounds like", but it looks like something else. Trump praised peaceful protesters before ordering the military to gas them for a photo op with him holding a Bible. Trump is a hypocrite.

Mon, 06/01/2020 - 6:27pm

Our current Governor is channeling George W. Romney's and Jerome P. Cavanagh's disastrous performances responding to the 1967 Detroit Riots. President Trump is channeling Ohio Governor James Rhodes, Toledo Mayor William Ensign, and Toledo Police Chief Anthony Bosch, who together strangled their July 1967 riot, which ignited one day later.

No one died in Toledo in July 1967. Only 79 fires were started. In Detroit, 43 were dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrested, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed.

Thu, 06/04/2020 - 2:00pm

Who is Trump channeling? He seems very authoritarian, like the people he admires. He literally called Putin for advice.

Mon, 06/01/2020 - 8:27pm

How sad that in the face of tragedy is another opportunity for our governor to politicize the situation. President Trump is saying it’s not ok to let people destroy property, steal and injure others. He has also specifically stated that people have the right to assemble peacefully. The line becomes clearly drawn when people attack others and property. Gov whitmer uses any opportunity to spew political rhetoric. If the blue state governors had expressly stated they would not tolerate looting and destruction of property, and taken action out of the gate to protect their communities, we may not be in the situation our country is now facing.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:04am

"Trump ‘determined to sow the seeds of hatred’ " Or, Whitmer just can't take constructive (crude) criticism.

Never Trump
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 2:01pm

Have you been watching the news?

What about Riots?
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:13am

Not ONE word from the governor condemning the violence and destruction from the riots. I guess she endorses that type of violence as long as the rioters voted for her.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:26am

The track record for racist dictators and their enablers isn't very good. After he's voted out, Trump and his enablers should be tried by the World Court for crimes against humanity.

Mary Sue
Tue, 06/09/2020 - 9:17am

You misspelled Whitmer's name.

Truth hurts
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 9:30am

Very clearly looters could well be people who are trying to exacerbate these protests to make peaceful protestors look bad. Who would want to do that? Trump supporters, white supremacists..... among other republicans. They have come in and mingled with peaceful protestors and then ran about inciting violence and damage. It's been clearly reported in many cities that those causing damage were not even from the areas. Peaceful protestors have put themselves in danger trying to step in front of these Trump supporters trying to stop the damage. American's are not fooled. Trump incites hatred every day in his role. Well there is hatred alright. For guess who?

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:07am

I guess in Whitmer's mind, it is better to have peoples feelings intact than it is to have no looting, no destruction of property, and no firing actual bullets at law enforcement officers.

All in God's Image
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 2:07pm

Isn't that what we hear after a house fire? "We may have lost everything, but at least no one was hurt." "You can replace things. You can't replace people." These are very Pro Life sentiments. Guess you have different values.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:15am

Was Bridge bought by Murdoch? Censor supporters of the governor? By all polls, she represents the majority in Michigan with vast favorability ratings. Meanwhile Trumpsters, a minority who support his authoritarianism, can post all their same tired lies here about how Whitmer is a "tyrant".

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:16am

All the badmouthing of Whitmer by Trump sycophants, yet no court has ruled against her.

woody Glasson
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:50am

To late she already does.
These Governors have proven how useless they are. They knew the riots were coming and didn't do anything. It's the Baltimore Md. plan," let it burn and they will stop." Let it burn and the fed's will give us money. No, mam ur in way over ur head. This is what Lib's do.

United We Stand
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 2:17pm

Sounds like you are describing Trump's handling of the pandemic which he dumped on the governors. By the way all the governors are doing a much better job than Trump. The same can be said about the protests and riots. Trump is not only failing on the leadership front, but he undermines all the courageous efforts of the governors, be they democrats or republicans. The governors are gradually succeeding despite Trump's childish behavior. Even the military disdains Trump.

Why Mattis' verdict on Trump is devastating
Former US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis -- who President Donald Trump has compared to one of his heroes, General George Patton -- on Wednesday issued a blistering statement saying, "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people -- does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort."


Mariann Airgood
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 12:08pm

I don't condone rioting but as Martin Luther King Jr. said, " A riot is the language of the unheard. " Until white Americans are able to open up their minds to let in some new thoughts, their ears to let in the voices of people who are brown and black, and their hearts to love people of all cultures, these kind of riots are going to happen over and over again.
Some of the comments I see here sound no different than comments that were made in 1968. Fifty-two years later, it is time to wake up and come out of our shells of fear. It is tragic but true, that racism is alive and well in America. Isn't it time we all tried to solve this problem together?
I hope in the next election we can elect leaders who are not so caught up in their desire to increase their own wealth, that they can't open their eyes and see what is happening in this country.

David W
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 12:26pm

I am amazed that those or you who are supporting Donald Trump in your response to this article castigate Gov. Whitmer as a supporter of looting, rioting and violence. These are the very thoughts that promote misunderstandings and keep the rhetoric of political divisiveness alive. I suggest you may not wish to find a solution to our nation's problems. I suggest that you wish to protect the status quo at the expense of those who are oppressed.

Please remember, our nation was founded because of tyranny imposed on the colonists. The colonists rose up, demonstrated and performed acts of civil disobedience. Were their acts of violence OK?

Yes We Can
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 2:25pm

True, but they had taxation without representation. We sort of have that today because lobbyists gerrymandered us out of our representation, but that said, people should assemble peacefully, petition their elected officials, and most importantly VOTE. Stay engaged for every election at every level of government and demand change. Lastly be the change you want to see.

David W
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 5:11pm

Under normal circumstances, I would wholly agree with you. However, your idea that voting and peaceful assembly can change the systemic racism that exists in American is naive. Further, if you believe the practice of taxation without representation is greater cause for rebellion than the treatment afforded minorities in our country, then you truly are using some very distorted thinking.

When those without a voice come with pitchforks to take what they should have had all along, I can hear you saying, "They were suppose to vote and protest peacefully!"

Paul Hogan
Tue, 06/09/2020 - 9:22am

Perhaps the very thoughts and actions of you- David W- are what is promoting the divisiveness and hatred that we see on the street (mixed in with people protesting). Our nation is not a problem and wasn't founded as a problem. We need to indeed stick with the status quo that it founded on - that all men are equal and have the right to keep and earn property and live in freedom. Democrats keep trying to subvert this status quo- first by putting black in chains for decades and then fighting to treat them unequally for another century after that. It was Republicans- the party of Lincoln- who said that we need to always stick to our ideals as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, and if there are failures, they are not systematic failures but rather our personal failure to uphold these great ideas.

David W, stop supporting racism, hatred, and divisiveness.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 12:44pm

Republicans don't like to be labeled as racists but none have stepped forward to condemn police brutality, and murder by police. Their silence is very telling !

Thu, 06/04/2020 - 2:21pm

Opposite of racism is antiracism, not silence.

Joan McComber
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 1:23pm

If Laura Cox thinks these differences can be resolved with discourse and non-violence, it is up to her to stand up and tell Michigan Republicans that violence will not be tolerated, and that openness to discussing solutions is the answer. She must tell them that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and they must stop seeing skin color when determining actions to be taken. She must tell those coming to Lansing to protest carrying assault rifles that this is not acceptable. She must project a voice of reason and unity. If she does not do so, her statements against Lavora Barnes position is just rhetoric, easily ignored.

Thu, 06/04/2020 - 2:30pm

The easiest thing to do is to join the protesters in solidarity and take a knee, just like the police are doing. Actions speak louder than words, that goes for all republicans and democrats.

Craig Reynolds
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 1:23pm

As lamentably usual, when two or more things happen at once, many people will choose to see only one and use that narrowed view to define an entire event or period or history. So these most recent protests become looting and rioting, the Gilded Age in America was just marvelous and not a period of endemic economic panic and disorder and people of color are doing just fine with nothing really to complain about - despite crappy public schools and lack of personal and economic mobility and the constant suspicious surveillance following their every move in mostly white America.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 5:10pm

He may have sown them, but you are giving it fertilizer! Democrats need to look in the mirror!

Thu, 06/04/2020 - 3:26pm

Trump will be Trump, ignore him, right? Don't take what he says literally, right?

Todd Priest
Tue, 06/02/2020 - 5:51pm

He was spot on. YOU know it. Democrats sat and did nothing while they burned and looted.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 5:52pm

Whitmer is just another AOC with a different coat of paint.

Thu, 06/04/2020 - 3:28pm

You act like that's a bad thing.

Bob Butkiss
Wed, 06/03/2020 - 2:48pm

This headline was unfair to the Governor- while it is likely true that Michigan Gov. Whitmer is determined to sow the seeds of hatred, according to the Michigan Democrats she only wants us to hate anyone who supports Trump. And maybe she's right- the people who support Trump are deplorable non-humans who should have their property, liberty, and lives taken away from them by the loving Democrats.

Reread Y'r Post
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 3:31pm

You realize Trump gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op, don't you? You seem to be projecting Trump realities on Whitmer.

Thu, 06/04/2020 - 1:46pm

Mission accomplished. We can all agree that Trump is doing that very well.

Elizabeth Stafford
Fri, 06/05/2020 - 10:40am

I think all people need to realize that not all people and not all police are racist. Also, that there are protestors and there are criminal acts. For those that want to protest, it needs to be peaceful with no property or persons hurt. I fell this very strongly and am sure that there are others who do as well. May we pray for all those who need to express themselves that it be in a peaceful and productive manner.

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 11:23am

When will people at nursing and afc homes be allowed to spend night at friends and family homes