Former US Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden blasted President Donald Trump for staging a photo op near the White House a day earlier as protesters were being dispersed by police.
Speaking in Philadelphia to address the nationwide unrest over the killing of George Floyd by police brutality, Biden on Tuesday said the American people “can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle, more interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care,” Xinhua news agency reported.
He was referring to events on Monday when police used tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters near the White House so that Trump, after finishing a speech during which he threatened to send in the military to quell the escalating chaos, could visit the St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he stood for a photo op flanked by senior administration officials.
In the speech, which came on the same day when seven states and the District of Columbia will hold primaries that could see Biden reap the number of delegate votes enough to win the nomination, Biden said the nation was “crying out for leadership that can unite us,” and that he, instead of Trump, could deliver it.
“I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate. I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country – not use them for political gain,” the 77-year-old said. “I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me.”
Biden said that demonstrators chanting “I can’t breathe” to echo Floyd’s last words before choking to death is “a wake-up call for our nation, for all of us.” Meanwhile, he said there was “no place for violence” or “rioting” or “destroying property,” adding that “nor is it acceptable for our police … to escalate violence.”
Seven days into the nationwide protests, incidents of arson, vandalism and looting happened in various places, along with civilian deaths and injuries of journalists related to alleged abusive use of force by the police.