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Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered remarks Tuesday, addressing national unrest following the death of a black Minnesota man, George Floyd, while in police custody last week.
Biden spoke from a presidential campaign podium in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, recounting the now viral video of Floyd being pinned to the ground with a police officer’s knee placed on the back of his neck. Biden said peaceful protests were acceptable, but said there was no place for violence and looting as many demonstrations have shown.
Biden began his speech by noting more than 100,000 deaths and more than 40 million job losses from coronavirus, which he said disproportionately affects the African American community. He then described rioting and looting and destruction to businesses “many of them built by the very people of color, who for the first time in their lives had begun to realize their dreams and build wealth.”
While condemning looting and violence by some rioters, Biden also criticized police tactics that have hurt protesters.
“Nor is it acceptable for our police, sworn to protect and serve all people, to escalate tensions and resort to excessive violence,” Biden said.
Biden then directed criticism for much of those controversial tactics to President Donald Trump.
“This president today is part of the problem,” Biden said.
Biden said a recent tweet by Trump, that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” was actually an endorsement of brutal police tactics and not a statement of concern about violence coming with looting.
“When he tweeted the words, ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ they weren’t the words of a president,” Biden said. “They were the words of a racist Miami police chief in the 60s.”
As Biden continued, he transitioned from weighing his assessment of the mass demonstrations in recent days to begin talking about what he would do differently as a President.
“I wish I could say hate began with Donald Trump and will end with him, it didn’t and it won’t,” Biden said. “American history isn’t a fair tell with a guaranteed happy ending. The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years.”
Biden said Trump “thinks division helps him.”
“I ask every American, look at where we are now and think anew,” Biden said. “Is this who we are? Is this who we want to be? Is this what we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren?”
Biden said he would promise not to “traffic in fear and division” or “fan the flames of hate.”