US presidential candidate Joe Biden on Sunday condemned the violence of race protests that have erupted across the United States but said Americans had a right to demonstrate.
“Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response,” the Democratic White House hopeful said in a statement.
“But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not.”
If we are complacent, if we are silent, we are complicit in perpetuating these cycles of violence.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 30, 2020
None of us can turn away. We all have an obligation to speak out.
Civil unrest continues in major cities
Civil unrest flared and curfews were imposed in several major US cities on Saturday as demonstrators took to the streets to vent outrage at the death of a black man shown on video gasping for breath as a white Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck.
From Los Angeles to Miami to Chicago, protests marked by chants of “I can’t breathe” - a rallying cry echoing the dying words of George Floyd - began peacefully before turning unruly as demonstrators blocked traffic, set fires and clashed with riot police, some firing tear gas and plastic bullets in an effort to restore order.
The sight of protesters flooding streets fueled a sense of crisis in the United States after weeks of lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen millions thrown out of work and has disproportionately affected minority communities.
In the nation’s capital, hundreds of demonstrators assembled near the Justice Department headquarters shouting, “black lives matter.” Many later moved to the White House, where they faced off with shield-carrying police, some mounted on horseback.
President Donald Trump said on Saturday that if protesters who gathered the night before in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, had breached the fence, “they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”
The full Minnesota National Guard was activated for the first time since World War Two after four nights of arson, looting and vandalism in parts of Minneapolis, the state’s largest city, and its adjacent capital, St. Paul.