Twitter censored one of President Donald Trump’s tweets on Tuesday for violating rules against making “a threat of harm against an identifiable group.”
Trump sent the tweet in question on Tuesday morning, threatening to meet any potential attempt to establish an “autonomous zone” in Washington, D.C. with “serious force.” Such a zone has existed over several blocks in Seattle since June 8, and the police-free area recently suffered a spate of violence in which two people were injured and one killed.
“There will never be an ‘Autonomous Zone’ in Washington, D.C., as long as I’m your President. If they try they will be met with serious force!” Trump tweeted. The night before, a group of black separatists attempted to establish the “Black House Autonomous Zone,” or BHAZ, outside of St. Johns Church near the White House in D.C.
Twitter placed the president’s tweet behind a warning message on Tuesday afternoon. Social media users now have to click through a message that says, “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about abusive behavior. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
The platform also disabled users’ ability to interact with the tweet through likes, shares, and retweets, although users may still retweet it with comment. Twitter explained the action in a thread that links to the company’s policies and philosophy on tweets from world leaders.
“We’ve placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our policy against abusive behavior, specifically, the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group,” Twitter said. “Per our policies, this Tweet will remain on the service given its relevance to ongoing public conversation.”
The night of fatal violence inside the Seattle zone, now known as an “occupied zone” after forgoing its previous title as an “autonomous zone,” pushed Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to call for the zone to shut down after tolerating its presence for weeks. Durkan had allowed the zone’s occupants to set it up in early June by ordering the area’s police precinct abandoned.
“After days of peaceful demonstrations, two nights of shootings have clearly escalated the situation on Capitol Hill,” Durkan’s office said in a statement Monday. “We have been meeting with residents and small business owners to address their safety and disorder concerns, including the ability of first responders to access emergencies in the area.”
Durkan continued to support the “peaceful” occupation of the area which includes the homes and businesses of many Seattle residents. The mayor said that the area has grown too dangerous at night, however, and that people should disperse.
“Tens of thousands of people have been gathering in Capitol Hill for nearly two weeks to continue their protest, to build community and demand change. During the day, it has been a place for healing, education, and community – but it is very different at night,” she said. “While we believe community and demonstrators can and should continue gathering peacefully on Capitol Hill, the disorder, violence, and impacts on businesses and residents threatens to derail the CHOP’s critical message calling for justice, equality, and systemic reform.”
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