WILMINGTON • Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden blasted United States President Donald Trump and denounced “systemic racism” on Monday as he sought to reignite his campaign after weeks of coronavirus sequestration.
Mr Biden, who met anti-racism protesters on Sunday, took to Twitter to express his fury at his opponent’s response to the protests that have broken out nationwide over the death of Mr George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a white Minnesota police officer.
“He’s using the American military against the American people,” Mr Biden tweeted after the President vowed to order an army crackdown on the unrest.
“He tear-gassed peaceful protesters and fired rubber bullets. For a photo,” he wrote, referring to Mr Trump’s use of law enforcement to clear protesters outside the White House so he could pose for photographs at a riot-damaged church nearby. “For our children, for the very soul of our country, we must defeat him.”
The 77-year-old former vice-president appeared to be stepping up the pace of his campaign.
In a meeting with African American religious and political leaders on Monday, Mr Biden accused Mr Trump of fomenting racist hate and letting minorities suffer most in the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate under the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks,” he said, speaking at the Bethel AME Church in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware.
“It matters what the President says. It encourages people to bring out the vitriol.”
Speaking later at a virtual town hall event, Mr Biden returned to the theme of racism: “There is systemic racism, white supremacy, it’s real… I think we all see it but African Americans see more clearly.”
Mr Floyd’s death “invoked the full weight of our history… how black lives have been devalued by society. And it’s not only intolerable, but people are angry”.
Mr Biden said if elected, he would work in his first 100 days of office to address the needs of black Americans. He is popular among black voters, a key electorate for any Democrat hoping to win the presidency.
But he is not immune to criticism. Last month, he provoked backlash when he told a radio host “you ain’t black” if he was thinking of voting for Mr Trump. Mr Biden quickly apologised after the interview was aired.