Joining widespread condemnation from Democrats, former Vice President Joe Biden blasted President Donald Trump on Tuesday for having police clear demonstrators from Lafayette Park in front of the White House on Monday, so the President could walk to a nearby church where he was photographed holding a Bible.
"The President held up the Bible at St. John's Church yesterday," Biden said in a speech in Philadelphia. "I just wish he opened it once in a while instead of brandishing it. If he opened it, he could have learned something."
"In addition to the Bible, the President might want to open the Constitution once in a while," Biden added.
Biden began his speech by quoting the final words of George Floyd, the black man who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, who kneeled on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes.
"I can't breathe," Biden began, as he said the nation was 'crying out for leadership.'
"That's why I'm running," the former Vice President added.
Biden slams President Trump for his photo shoot holding a Bible: "I just wish he opened it once in a while instead of brandishing it. If he opened it, he could've learned something." https://t.co/bjE1Bdvjmy pic.twitter.com/8HFrJi1kkz— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 2, 2020
Both 2020 candidates visited churches today. Here are two very different images from those visits: pic.twitter.com/M8KjR4cIaz— Caitlin Huey-Burns (@CHueyBurns) June 1, 2020
The likely Democratic Party nominee for President denounced violence in America's cities as a response to the Floyd killing, urging a conversation about the plight of minorities in America.
"There's no place for violence, no place for looting or destroying property or burning churches or destroying businesses," Biden said.
Biden's speech marked his first major campaign appearance since mid-March, when the arrival of the Coronavirus suddenly shut down the 2020 campaign.
It was the third straight day that the Floyd story had drawn Biden out of his home in Delaware - where he had been sidelined by the virus outbreak.
On Sunday, Biden visited the site of a protest in his home town of Wilmington and spoke with members of the black community.
On Monday, Biden visited a local church, and met with black clergy from the area.
"These are difficult days for the country," Biden said in a Monday live stream with mayors from Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta, as Biden denounced the street violence around the nation.
Leaders listen. pic.twitter.com/FPSJP4Fkn3— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 1, 2020
"Violence that endangers lives, guts local businesses is no way forward," Biden said, as he joined calls by Democrats for a more direct conversation on what led to the death of Floyd, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
"What are the reforms, if any, within police departments that we should be focusing on," Biden suggested to the mayors.