US President Donald Trump has been condemned by his likely Democratic challenger for invoking George Floyd’s name as he touted US jobs figures.
He spoke out after Mr Trump said Mr Floyd, who died last month while being arrested in Minneapolis, is “looking down” and “saying this a great day”.
Former US Vice-President Joe Biden said the remark was “despicable”.
Mr Trump spoke while celebrating a surprise US jobs rebound and calling for “equal justice under the law”.
Mr Floyd, who was unarmed and in handcuffs, died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death has sparked protests against racial discrimination in cities across the US and the world.
In response to the killing, Minneapolis officials plan on Friday to formally ban the use of police neck restraints or chokeholds.
Under the new policy, officers will be required to immediately report from the scene to their commander if they see a colleague using such authorised force.
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.”
While the president’s critics suggested he was crassly suggesting Mr Floyd would be posthumously celebrating positive jobs figures, his defenders said the context of his comments make clear he was referring to his call for equal treatment of all Americans during police encounters.
More on George Floyd’s death
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.
“And the fact he did so on the day black unemployment rose, Hispanic unemployment rose, black youth unemployment skyrocketed tells you everything you need to know about this man and what he cares about.”
But Mr Biden was wrong about Hispanic unemployment.
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, the unemployment rate rose from 16.4% to 16.8%.
The losses from the coronavirus pandemic have hit minority and low-wage workers hardest, a trend that has continued.
Despite Mr Biden’s claim, the Hispanic unemployment rate actually declined in April from 18.5% to 17.2%.
It also fell among white workers to 12.4% from 13.8% over the last month.
While campaigning in his home state of Delaware on Thursday night, Mr Biden 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”.
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