US President Donald Trump has been condemned by his Democratic challenger Joe Biden for invoking George Floyd’s name as he touted US jobs figures.
Mr Trump said Mr Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, is “looking down” and “saying this is a great day”.
Mr Biden, who has now formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, said the remark was “despicable”.
Mr Trump spoke while celebrating a surprise US jobs rebound.
In his speech, the president called for “equal justice under the law”.
DC mayor names plaza ‘Black Lives Matter’
Mr Floyd, who was unarmed and in handcuffs, died on 25 May after a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The officer involved was charged with murder and three colleagues stand accused of aiding and abetting.
The death triggered protests against racial discrimination across the US and world. On Friday, Minneapolis banned the police neck restraint seen in the video of Mr Floyd’s death, and California pledged to follow suit.
What did Trump say?
Speaking in the White House Rose Garden on Friday, Mr Trump said: “Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, colour, gender or creed.
“They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement. They have to receive it.
“We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen.
“Hopefully George is looking down and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. A great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody.”
Mr Trump, a Republican, added: “This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”
The president’s critics said he was crassly suggesting Mr Floyd would be posthumously celebrating positive jobs figures.
Mr Trump’s defenders said the context of his comments make clear he was referring to his call for equal treatment of all Americans by police.
What did Biden say?
The Democratic presidential candidate hit back during a campaign speech in Dover, Delaware.
He said: “George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ echoed all across this nation and quite frankly around the world.
“For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd I frankly think is despicable.”
Mr Biden, a former US vice-president, has been sharpening his attacks on Mr Trump as the 3 November White House election looms.
While campaigning in his home state of Delaware on Thursday night, he said Mr Trump brings out the “worst” of some Americans and “there are probably anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the people out there, they’re just not very good people”.
On Friday, Mr Biden secured the 1,991 delegates he needed to be chosen as nominee at the Democratic party’s national convention, US media reported. This happened after presidential primaries in seven states and the District of Columbia.
“I am going to spend every day between now and 3 November fighting to earn the votes of Americans all across this great country,” Mr Biden said.
What do the job figures show?
The latest US monthly jobs report on Friday showed employers added 2.5 million jobs, defying economists’ predictions of further decline.
For black workers, however, the unemployment rate crept upwards from 16.7% to 16.8%.
The losses from the coronavirus pandemic have hit minority and low-wage workers hardest.
The Hispanic unemployment rate declined in April from 18.5% to 17.2%. And it fell among white workers to 12.4% from 13.8%.
Who’s banning police neck restraints?
The Minneapolis City Council and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Friday agreed to ban police neck restraints and chokeholds.
The new policy, which will be enforceable in court, requires any officer regardless of rank to verbally and physically intervene if they witness a colleague using such unauthorised force.
California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday he would move to end state police training in the use of the “carotid restraint”.
San Diego Police Department banned the technique this week in response to the nationwide uproar over events in Minneapolis.
Officials in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles have all previously taken steps to ban or limit the use of chokeholds by members of their police departments.