Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden called Friday for justice for George Floyd, the black man killed by a white police officer in Minnesota, and said it was time to heal the “open wound” of systemic racism in the United States.
“The very soul of America is at stake,” the former vice president said in remarks broadcast online from his Delaware home.
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The 77-year-old presumptive Democratic presidential nominee denounced what he called an “act of brutality” against Floyd and said he had spoken with members of his family.
“We need justice for George Floyd,” he said.
Floyd’s death triggered three nights of rioting in Minneapolis and protests against policy brutality in other US cities.
“The original sin of this country still stains our nation today,” Biden said in a reference to slavery.
“Sometimes we manage to overlook it,” he said. “But it’s always there.”
“We’re a country with an open wound,” Biden said. “And it’s long past time that we made the promise of this nation real for all people.”
The Democrat also directed some criticism at his November election opponent, President Donald Trump, although he didn’t mention him by name.
“This is no time for incendiary tweets,” he said.
“It’s no time to encourage violence,” Biden said of a Trump threat to potentially shoot looters.
“This is a national crisis and we need real leadership right now,” Biden said, “leadership that will bring everybody to the table so we can take measures to root out systemic racism.”
“With our complacency, our silence, we are complicit in perpetuating these cycles of violence,” he said.
Derek Chauvin, the policeman accused of killing Floyd by kneeling on his neck for several minutes, was taken into custody on Friday and is facing charges of third degree murder and manslaughter.