The former vice president condemned Trump for his photo op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday — a public relations stunt which required police officers to disperse peaceful protestors by using tear gas.
“Donald Trump has turned this country into a battlefield driven by old resentments and fresh fears. He thinks division helps him,” said Biden during a speech in Philadelphia. “His narcissism has become more important than the nation’s well-being that he leads. Look at where we are now and think anew: ‘Is this who we are? Is this who we want to be?’
He continued, “Is this what we want to pass on to our children our grandchildren, fear, anger, finger-pointing, rather than the pursuit of happiness and competence and anxiety, self absorption, selfishness? Or do we want to be the America we know we can be?”
Biden criticized Trump’s decision to hold a Bible in front of St. John’s , saying that he should “open it once in awhile instead of brandishing it.” He also said he should read the Constitution to understand the necessity of public protests to “petition their government for redress of grievances.”
“When peaceful protesters dispersed in order for a president — a president from the doorstep of the people’s house — the White House using tear gas and flash grenades in order to stage a photo op. A photo op of one of the most historic churches in the country or at least in Washington D.C.,” said Biden. “We can be forgiven for believing the president is more interested in power than in principle. We’re just serving the passions of his base and the needs of the people in his care for that’s what the presidency is, the duty to care for all of us, not just those that vote for us, but all of us.”
He also pointed to Trump’s comments on the civil unrest unfolding in major cities, citing a presidential tweet in which Trump wrote, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” He then addressed the president’s threat of releasing “violent” dogs on protesters as referencing police tactics also used against protesters.
Biden said that the murder of Floyd is a “wake-up call,” exposing issues of police brutality and social injustice.
“A country is crying out for leadership, leadership that can unite us, leadership that brings us together, leadership that can recognize pain and deep grief of communities that have had a knee on their neck for a long time,” Biden said.