Trump 'fanning the flames of hate', says Biden as he challenges president to unify nation after Portland and Kenosha violence

'I condemn violence of every kind by anyone,' Democratic nominee says

Griffin Connolly
Tuesday 01 September 2020 07:39 BST
Biden slams Trump for 'fanning flames' of violence
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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called on Donald Trump to help him "lower the temperature" of the rhetoric and raw political emotions that have fuelled the violence that has gripped several cities in the US in the wake of police shootings this summer.

Mr Biden delivered a lengthy statement on Sunday condemning "violence of every kind by anyone" after a man was shot and killed in Portland, Oregon, on Saturday as Trump supporters on a vehicle paraded through the city and some clashed with counter-protesters.

A 17-year-old boy from Illinois, Kyle Rittenhouse, has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety — all with a deadly weapon — after he allegedly shot and killed two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week amid a protest-turned-riot against the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

"The deadly violence we saw overnight in Portland is unacceptable. Shooting in the streets of a great American city is unacceptable. I condemn this violence unequivocally. I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same," Mr Biden said in his statement.

"It does not matter if you find the political views of your opponents abhorrent, any loss of life is a tragedy. Today there is another family grieving in America, and Jill and I offer our deepest condolences," Mr Biden said.

The former Democratic vice president indicated he was not optimistic Mr Trump would rise to the occasion to promote unity and issue a similarly worded statement.

On Sunday morning alone, Mr Trump fired off more than 85 tweets or retweets commending the vehicle parade of his supporters in Portland, some of whom unloosed pepper spray and unloaded rounds of paintballs at counter-protesters and journalists covering the event.

"We must not become a country at war with ourselves. A country that accepts the killing of fellow Americans who do not agree with you. A country that vows vengeance toward one another. But that is the America that President Trump wants us to be, the America he believes we are," Mr Biden said.

Despite Mr Biden issuing statement after statement calling for anti-police brutality protests to remain peaceful and denouncing the rioting and looting that has marred some of them after the deaths in police custody of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, the Trump campaign has sought to portray him as sympathetic to and complicit in the violence.

The president has also needled Democratic mayors of the cities where the protests and riots have reached a pitch.

"The Radical Left Democrat Mayors, like the dummy running Portland, or the guy right now in his basement unwilling to lead or even speak out against crime, will never be able to do it!" Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday.

Mr Biden still leads Mr Trump in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls by 6.9 percentage points from 12 to 25 August.

The US presidential election is on 3 November.

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