United States President Donald Trump on Sunday retweeted a video of one of his supporters yelling “white power,” but deleted it later after it was widely criticised as being racist and insensitive, AFP reported. The move came at a time when America is roiled with protests against racial inequality and police brutality after the murder of George Floyd, an African-American who died as a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The two-minute video clip showed profane exchanges as anti-Trump protesters and his supporters clashed at The Villages, a retirement community in Florida. In the video, a white man riding in a golf cart bearing “Trump 2020” and “America First” signs, is seen being heckled by a roadside protester chanting “racist.” During the argument, the man in the golf cart pumps his fist in the air and says “white power!” twice.

The president retweeted the video, thanking “the great people of The Villages”. “The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall,” he added. However, the tweet was deleted a few hours later, with the White House issuing a statement claiming Trump had not heard the phrase “white power”, which is considered synonymous with a call for white supremacism.

“President Trump is a big fan of The Villages,” said White House spokesperson Judd Deere. “He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.”

Trump’s statement triggered intense backlash. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only African-American Republican senator, called the video “offensive”. “There is no question he should not have retweeted it, and he should just take it down,” Scott said on the CNN program “State of the Union.” “We can play politics with it or we can’t. I’m not going to. I think it’s indefensible. We should take it down.”

The Democratic National Committee said in a statement that the United States needed a president “who will heal our nation’s wounds and unite the American people, not a demagogue who tries to divide us through fear and bigotry”.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also condemned the move and said White supremacy should be rooted out and relegated to the pages of history — not promoted by the President of the United States. “We’re in a battle for the soul of the nation – and the President has picked a side,” Biden tweeted. “But make no mistake: it’s a battle we will win.”