Shaquille O'Neal Calls Out Donald Trump Over George Floyd Protests: 'I Really Miss Obama'

Shaquille O'Neal has called out the lack of leadership at the White House and suggested Barack Obama would have dealt with the protests and civil unrest sparked by George Floyd's death far better than President Donald Trump has.

As demonstrations began across the U.S. after Floyd died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25, Trump said on Twitter that he was ready to "send in the National Guard" and followed up that up by warning protesters that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

He has subsequently used his social media profile to urge state governors to forcefully crack down on protesters. On Monday, police in Washington, D.C. used tear gas to disperse demonstrators so that Trump could walk across the road from the White House to be photographed outside St. John's Church holding a bible.

The move was widely derided as the latest in a long list of stunts, with Democrats and members of the clergy accusing the President of deliberately fueling an already combustible situation.

Making a remote appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show on Tuesday night, O'Neal was scathing in his criticism of the lack of leadership in Washington.

"I don't like to see the country like this," the four-time NBA champion said. "I wish we had somebody in the White House in a leadership position who would really do something.

"[I] Really miss [Barack] Obama. I think he would have handled this situation with class and honor. He would have definitely done the right thing."

Floyd's death sparked widespread protests across the U.S. after videos emerged of a white police officer kneeling on his neck for almost 10 minutes while arresting him. In the video, the victim can be heard saying he's unable to breathe and pleading with officers, before seemingly losing consciousness.

Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd, was fired last week and has since been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

O'Neal insisted all four officers involved the arrest had to be charged. "Everybody is upset, everybody is tired and we demand justice," he explained.

"They try to appease us by arresting one guy but it was four officers out there and I think people are just sick and tired."

Later in his interview, he added: "The governor of Minnesota needs to do something. I think the other three guys need to be arrested. I think that's all the family is looking for."

Protests across the U.S. extended into an eighth day on Tuesday, with a growing number of high-profile figures condemning police brutality and racial discrimination.

In the world of sports, players, executives and a host of coaches in the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL have spoken out against Floyd's death and O'Neal feels the protests could be a tipping point.

"I'm 48-year-old and I've seen outbreaks of riots before, but I think this is the first time the country is doing it all at the same time. I had never seen it in more than one city. [...] People want equality, they want justice and I understand them."

Echoing the stance of Killer Mike—the Atlanta rapper who delivered a powerful TV statement on Friday night calling for protesters not to vandalize the city but to take political actions—the former Los Angeles Lakers star urged protesters to remain peaceful and avoid looting.

"I'm all for peaceful protests, I don't like opportunists trying to cause riots or people breaking into stores," he continued. "I don't condone all that, but I'm for peaceful protests and I want justice."

Barack Obama, Shaquille O'Neal
President Barack Obama shakes hands with former NBA player Shaquille O'Neal on the basketball court during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House March 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. The tradition dates back to 1878 when President Rutherford B. Hayes allowed children to roll eggs on the South Lawn. Drew Angerer/Getty