President Donald Trump has retweeted a video interview of controversial activist Candace Owens, in which she says that it "sickens" her to see George Floyd being treated as a hero. Floyd was killed last month after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin restrained him by placing his knee over his neck.
Who is Candace Owens?
Owens is an African American right-wing commentator and political activist, who has emerged as one of Trump's most prominent supporters after initially being very critical of him and the Republican party.
Owens also worked as the communications director for Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump youth organization led by Charlie Kirk. Moreover, she founded Blexit, a campaign to persuade African-Americans and other minorities to abandon the Democrats. The 31-year-old has become known for her controversial and critical takes on the Black Lives Matter movement, feminism, and the Democratic party.
She pursued a degree in journalism at the University of Rhode Island but couldn't complete her studies due to an issue with her student loan. Instead, she worked as an intern at Vogue magazine before taking up a job as an administrative assistant for a private equity firm.
In 2007, when Owens was still 17 years old, she received three racist death threats via voicemail, later traced to a car in which the 14-year-old son of then-Mayor Dannel Malloy was present. Owens' family sued the Stamford Board of Education in federal court, alleging that the city did not protect her rights, resulting in a $37,500 settlement in January 2008.
Comments on George Floyd
Owen sparked outrage on social media after sharing a 17-minute video on Twitter on Thursday, in which she claimed she does not support George Floyd and refuses to see him as "a martyr or a hero" while detailing his criminal record.
"I do not support George Floyd and the media's depiction of him as a martyr for black America" she said in the video. "George Floyd was not an amazing person. George Floyd is being upheld as an amazing human being."
Owens pointed out that she is not trying to defend Chauvin's actions and that Floyd's family "deserves justice." "But I also am not going to accept the narrative that this is the best the black community has to offer," she said.
"For whatever reason, it has become fashionable over the last five or six years for us to turn criminals into heroes overnight. It is something I find despicable." Owens alleged that Floyd was high at the time of his death, and detailed his criminal history.
"We shouldn't be buying T-shirts with his name on it," she said. "He was a violent criminal," she said about Floyd. "Everyone is pretending that this man lived a heroic lifestyle. We are embarrassing in that regard. Nobody wants to tell the truth in black America. Our biggest problem is us."
President Donald Trump retweeted a video interview between radio host Glenn Beck and Candace Owens questioning George Floyd's character late Friday. "I don't care WHAT George Floyd did. The officer should have never treated him like that and killed him! But we still must ask: Is he a HERO?," the video was captioned.
"The fact that he has been held up as a martyr sickens me," Owens says in the video. "George Floyd was not a good person. I don't care who wants to spin that, I don't care how CNN wants to make you think that he had just turned his life around."
Owens also mentioned that Floyd had served five stints in jail - including one for aggravated assault stemming from a robbery in which he entered a pregnant woman's home, pointed a gun at her stomach and searched the premises for drugs and money. "Was he really going to turn things around? It's just not true," she said.
Owens Controversial Past
Owens has frequently grabbed headlines over her controversial opinions. Last year, she was mentioned in the manifesto written by the man who claimed responsibility for the mass shooting of 51 worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The killer names Owens as his "inspiration" and claimed her insights and views pushed him towards violence.
In February last year, she faced criticism after a video of her defending nationalism and differentiating it from Adolf Hitler's policies went viral.
She also hit out at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in October after the former "Suits" star broke down on a trip to South Africa claiming she had found royal life difficult. In April, she was accused of using stunts and controversy to fuel coronavirus conspiracy theories, according to the Insider.
More recently, last month she was blasted by fellow black conservatives for saying Ahmaud Arbery's murder was not racially motivated. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in his neighborhood in February and three white men were charged with murder in connection to the fatal shooting.