DETROIT (Reuters) - Joe Biden on Friday called for justice and “real leadership”, accusing President Donald Trump of encouraging violence by threatening deadly military force to stop rioters in Minneapolis protesting the police killing of an unarmed black man.
Initially peaceful rallies in Minnesota’s largest city have given way to nights of arson, looting and vandalism, as protesters vented their rage over the death on Monday of George Floyd, seen on video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck.
Twitter, where Trump posted his comment earlier on Friday, for the first time hid the president’s tweet behind a warning banner accusing him of “glorifying violence”.
Biden, the likely Democratic presidential nominee to face Trump in November’s election, said the anger, frustration and exhaustion felt by black Americans was “undeniable”, and that the country needed to face its “deep open wound” of racism.
“This is no time for incendiary tweets. It’s no time to encourage violence,” Biden said, referring to Trump.
“This is a national crisis and we need real leadership right now. Leadership that will bring everyone to the table so that we can take measures to root out systemic racism,” the former vice president said in live remarks on YouTube.
He called for police reform, and said he had promised Floyd’s family that he would do everything in his power to see “that justice is had”.
Trump on Friday repeated on Twitter that “looting leads to shooting” and defended his initial post, saying it was “spoken as a fact, not as a statement.”
Demonstrations over Floyd’s death and other killings like it have spread to cities, including Los Angeles and Denver, with others expected on Friday in New York and Detroit.
The police officer who pinned Floyd with a knee to the neck before he died has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder, a prosecutor said on Friday.
Three other police officers involved in Floyd’s death have been fired and the FBI is investigating.
Trump’s re-election campaign has identified Minnesota as a state he could win in 2020 after narrowly losing it in 2016. He also has condemned the killing and promised justice.
Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Daniel Wallis