Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday called for justice in the death of a black man in Minneapolis police custody that has inspired days-long, citywide protests.
Violent demonstrations and outrage began after a bystander video surfaced Monday of a police officer kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old George Floyd after his arrest. Although Floyd repeatedly says he’s unable to breathe, the officer does not remove his knee.
In the video, Floyd can be seen being lifted into a gurney. He died several hours later.
In a short address from his Wilmington, Del., home, Biden said that he had spoken moments before to Floyd’s family. It’s unclear if President Trump had made similar contact.
“Thanks for taking the time to talk to me,” said Biden. “I promise you, I promise you, I’ll do everything in my power to see to it that justice is had.”
Officer Derek Chauvin, who has been fired, was taken into custody and charged with third-degree murder by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Friday afternoon, according to local authorities. Three other officers who were fired along with Chauvin have not been arrested.
Floyd’s death is the latest in a lengthy list of black Americans whose deaths, captured on video, were thrust into the national spotlight. In February, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot after being approached by two white men while on a jog in Georgia.
Both deaths have stoked conversations about racial divides and the deadly consequences of discrimination.
Floyd’s death was “an act of brutality so elemental, it did more than deny one more black man in America his civil rights and his human rights — it denied him of his very humanity; it denied him of his life,” Biden said, as he began to list the names of other high-profile deaths of African-Americans, including Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor.
Those deaths are also calling attention to Biden’s potential running mates. Floyd’s death has sparked calls, particularly from progressives, for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar to withdraw from consideration for vice president because of her prosecutorial record. She did not directly answer questions from New York magazine on whether that criticism was fair or if she had answers to it, instead saying, “I am now going to go and meet with people about what’s happening in my city but I gave you an answer, and that’s that Joe Biden is gonna make the best decision for the country.”
Earlier Friday morning, President Trump drew even more controversy when he appeared to advocate shooting looters in Minnesota.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” Trump tweeted.
Twitter flagged Trump’s tweet for inciting violence, claiming it violated the site’s rules. The official White House account then reposted Trump’s statement, and Twitter subsequently flagged that too, though both tweets remain live on the site.
“This is no time for incendiary tweets; it’s no time to encourage violence,” Biden said, without mentioning Trump by name. “This is a national crisis. We need leadership right now. Leadership that will bring everyone to the table so we can take measures to root out systemic racism.”
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