• Rep. Val Demings of Florida sharply criticized President Trump’s handling of racial-justice demonstrations during an ABC interview on Sunday.
  • Demings accused Trump of stoking tensions as racial-justice protests rocked the country.
  • She said Trump was “not trying to sow peace and calm, but actually throwing fire onto an already volatile situation.”
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Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida slammed President Donald Trump for his response to widespread, ongoing racial-justice demonstrations on Sunday, arguing that he has fueled tensions rather than trying to bring the country together.

“While America was going through civil unrest in all 50 states, quite frankly, America was on fire, we had a president — a commander-in-chief — who was walking around with a gasoline can,” Demings said during a Sunday interview on ABC’s This Week.

Demings’ scathing comments were in response to a question about how Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have responded to the mostly peaceful protests. Host Martha Raddatz cited a new ABC-Ipsos poll, which concluded that 55% of Americans believe that Trump’s rhetoric surrounding the protests has made things worse, while 49% said that Biden hasn’t had an effect one way or the other.

"President Donald John Trump is the commander-in-chief, and so the buck stops with him," Demings said, adding that Trump was "not trying to sow peace and calm, but actually throwing fire onto an already volatile situation."

Demings' comments came after violence at racial-justice protests has escalated in recent weeks. Police have accused 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of shooting three and killing two people during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25. On August 30, a man was shot dead in Portland as Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with pro-Trump ralliers.

Many have accused Trump of playing a part in the violence by emboldening his supporters to physically attack protesters. Shortly after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody on May 25 sparked massive protests across the country, Trump tweeted "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," which he later denied was a call to violence.

Trump was also widely criticized for inviting Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who pointed guns at protestors during demonstrations in St. Louis, to speak at the Republican National Convention late last month. The convention saw Trump and his allies tout a "law and order" message, and even use stock video and pictures of protests to warn attendees about presidential hopeful "Biden's America."

"What we're currently seeing in our country is not sustainable," Demings continued. "And it's really time to start moving from what we're seeing in the streets, I believe, to roundtable discussions ... to start putting into place plans of action that can get us back on track."