Joe Biden Slams President Trump for 'Encouraging Violence' in Portland: He's 'Fanning Flames of Hate'
"His failure to call on his supporters to stop seeking conflict shows just how weak he is," Joe Biden said
Joe Biden released a scathing statement slamming President Donald Trump and his handling of the unrest and violence in Portland.
In a lengthy statement, Biden, 77, accused Trump, 74, of "recklessly encouraging violence" after a man was shot and killed during a clash between Black Lives Matter protesters and a caravan of Trump's supporters on Saturday.
"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," the Democratic presidential nominee said. "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."
"As a country, we must condemn the incitement of hate and resentment that led to this deadly clash. It is not a peaceful protest when you go out spoiling for a fight," Biden continued. "What does President Trump think will happen when he continues to insist on fanning the flames of hate and division in our society and using the politics of fear to whip up his supporters? He is recklessly encouraging violence."
The former vice president added that while Trump may think tweeting about "law and order" shows his power, "his failure to call on his supporters to stop seeking conflict shows just how weak he is."
"He may think that war in our streets is good for his reelection chances, but that is not presidential leadership–or even basic human compassion. The job of a President is to lower the temperature. To bring people who disagree with one another together. To make life better for all Americans, not just those who agree with us, support us, or vote for us," he said.
Biden concluded, "Donald Trump has been president for almost four years. The temperature in the country is higher, tensions run stronger, divisions run deeper. And all of us are less safe because Donald Trump can’t do the job of the American president."
The victim of the shooting is reported to have been wearing a "Patriot Prayer" hat, which is a far-right group based in Portland that has repeatedly clashed with protesters, The Hill reported. The incident occurred after a miles-long caravan of Trump supporters drove into the Oregon city, which has seen daily protests over racial injustice and police brutality since the killing of George Floyd in May.
Trump also previously deployed militarized federal agents to Portland to try and stop the protests. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler condemned the move, saying the agents were only "escalating" the violence.
"The tactics that the Trump administration are using on the streets of Portland are abhorrent," Wheeler previously told NBC News. "People are being literally scooped off the street into unmarked vans, rental cars, apparently. They are being denied probable cause and they're denied due process."
Wheeler went on to say that “as far as I can see, this is completely unconstitutional."
On Sunday, Wheeler held a press conference and called out Trump, saying: "It's you who has created the hate and division. ... It's you who has not found a way to say the names of Black people killed by police officers."
In response, Trump called Wheeler a "weak and pathetic Democrat Mayor!!!"
While civil unrest has been consistent in Portland, protests have recently been reignited across the country after Kenosha, Wisconsin, police shot Jacob Blake seven times last week when authorities responded to what they said was a domestic disturbance.
The latest shooting in Portland also comes just days after Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Trump supporter, allegedly opened fire during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha on Tuesday, killing two people.
On Sunday, Trump also appeared to show support for Rittenhouse when he liked a tweet that began, "Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump."