Footage from a July event showing Donald Trump blasting protesters who had supposedly weaponized cans of soup went viral this week, right as the president amped up critical rhetoric of ongoing demonstrations in Portland.
“In cities across the nation, we’ve ... seen police officers assaulted with bricks, rocks, bats, Molotov cocktails, frozen bottles of water,” Trump said in the footage, which was filmed during his July 31 meeting with leaders from the National Association of Police Organizations. “And then they have cans of soup. Soup. And they throw the cans of soup. That’s better than a brick because you can’t throw a brick; it’s too heavy. But a can of soup, you can really put some power into that, right?”
The president argued that when these soup-carrying “anarchists” were arrested by law enforcement, they would claim the soup was intended to feed their family.
“And then when they get caught, they say, ‘No, this is soup for my family.’ They’re so innocent. ... It’s incredible. And you have people coming over with bags of soup — big bags of soup. And they lay it on the ground, and the anarchists take it and they start throwing it at our cops, at our police. And if it hits you, that’s worse than a brick because it’s got force. It’s the perfect size. It’s, like, made perfect.”
Trump’s take on weaponized soup may have been inspired by images showing canned food and other debris that Portland authorities say have been thrown at police during the city’s racial injustice protests. The demonstrations have been ongoing since the death of George Floyd in May.
During his meeting with the National Association of Police Organizations, Trump lambasted soup-tossing protesters within the larger context of the downfall of “Democrat-run cities” ― an argument that Trump has amplified on Twitter and frequently utilized to slam the likes of Chicago, Minneapolis and Portland.
On Monday, the president doubled down on this rhetoric against Portland. Trump claimed in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham that the city had been “under siege for years.” During a press conference that same day, Trump claimed that Portland could be cleaned up by federal law enforcement agents if only Mayor Ted Wheeler would give his consent. (The mayor has specifically asked Trump to stay away from the city, arguing that the president has only fueled friction in Portland’s streets.)
Despite his words on the deadliness of soup, when asked by CNN during the press conference about pro-Trump supporters in Portland firing paintball guns during the weekend, the president said paint was a “defensive mechanism.”
“Paint is not bullets,” Trump told reporter Kaitlan Collins. The president then claimed that CNN supporters with guns had caused the fatal shooting of Aaron J. Danielson, who had ties with the far-right group Patriot Prayer and died in a series of scuffles between pro-Trump demonstrators and counterprotesters on Saturday.