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'This is a nation of values': Biden hits out at Trump threat to crush protests and mocks him for 'brandishing' Bible

'We're not going to allow any president to quiet our voice'

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 02 June 2020 16:20 BST
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Joe Biden mocks Donald Trump for 'brandishing' Bible at photo opp

Former Vice President Joe Biden railed against President Donald Trump and called for American unity during a press conference Tuesday morning.

The presumed Democratic presidential nominee used his press conference this morning to disparage Mr Trump's handling of the George Floyd protests and - more broadly - his entire administration, while sympathizing with the anger and rage of the US public.

Early on in his address, Mr Biden criticised the president for not doing the "hard work" of exhibiting love for the people of the country. He said the president needed to care "for all of us, not just those who voted for us."

"The president held up the Bible at St. John's church. I wish he'd open it once in awhile instead of brandishing it," Mr Biden said. "If he did, he'd see that we're all called to love each other like we love ourselves. It's hard work but it's the work of America."

Mr Biden was referencing an outing Mr Trump took yesterday during which riot police gassed protesters to make space for the president to have pictures taken of him holding a Bible next to the historic St John's Church near the White House.

The former vice president also called on Mr Trump to "open the US Constitution once in awhile," encouraging him to review the First Amendment and its protections on speech and assembly, rather than threatening to use the US military to quash demonstrators.

He said the president should be "part of the solution, not the problem" and said Mr Trump was accelerating the problems at the root of the protests.

"When he tweeted 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' those aren't the words of a president, they're the words of a racist Miami cop from the 1970's," Mr Biden said.

He then compared Mr Trump's comments about siccing "vicious dogs" on protesters to Bull Connor's use of dogs and fire hoses on Civil Rights protesters in the early 1960's.

"We're not going to allow any president to quiet our voice," Mr Biden said. "We can't leave this moment thinking that we can once again turn away and do nothing, we can't do that this time. The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism."

Mr Biden acknowledged that in the past, politicians and public authorities have pledged to address issues of systemic racism, racial bias in policing and police militarization and brutality, but more often than not the assurances prove to be little more than lip service.

"It's going to take more than talk. We've done talk before," Mr Biden said.

He then called on Congress to act this month on passing reform legislation to address systemic racism, calling them a "down payment on what is long overdue."

The legislation he hopes to see passed includes police reform bills, a nationwide use of force standard, and - if he is elected president - he said he'd create a police oversight commission within his first 100 days as president.

In addition to addressing policing concerns, Mr Biden noted that black Americans are not only suffering under the weight of systemic racism, but by the failure of our economy to provide a livelihood for millions of Americans, which disproportionately impacts people of color.

"This country wasn't built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs. It was built by the American middle class, by unions and essential workers," Mr Biden said.

He said that expanding Obamacare was a pivotal step toward correcting the economic hardship faced by millions of Americans, especially members of minority communities. He called on Mr Trump to cease his attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act.

Mr Biden - who famously said that Americans weren't looking for a revolution - called on protesters in cities across the nation to unify and focus on building a better future together, noting that even if Mr Trump is not reelected, the problems that caused the protests in the first place existed long before Mr Trump's inauguration.

"Hate didn't begin with Trump and it won't end with him," Mr Biden said. "American history isn't a fairy tale with a guaranteed happy ending."

He noted that America's character is built not only on the grand ideals of Democracy and justice, but also on negative attributes - slavery, oppression and racism - and that there will always be a battle between those two elements of the American identity.

"We can't ignore the truth that we're at our best when we open our hearts rather than when we clench our fists," Mr Biden said.

The former vice president vowed to "take responsibility" if he is elected president, but reminded people that no one - including him - will get things right all of the time. He said he wouldn't blame others for his shortcomings but that he would work with the public to help rebuild the nation.

"We should be the America that cherishes each other, each and every one of us," he said. "We're a nation in pain, we mustn't let our pain destroy us."

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