Presidential hopeful Joe Biden spoke out regarding President Donald Trump’s use of force against protesters in Washington D.C. for what he calls a “photo op.” As ABC reported, Biden made a speech in Philadelphia to address the nation after a week of unrest following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in police custody.
During the speech, Biden addressed an incident yesterday where police were filmed using tear gas and flash grenades in order to move people who appeared to have been peacefully protesting away from the area in front of the White House and St. John’s Church, a historically significant building where many president’s and leaders have worshiped throughout American history.
“When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the 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 at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle,” Biden said.
The message was part of Biden’s first in-person campaign speeches since the coronavirus pandemic. In it, he addressed the death of Floyd and the protests that have spread across the country as people demonstrate against police brutality and inequality in the United States. During the speech, he also addressed Trump’s handling of the crisis.
“We can be forgiven for believing the president’s more interested in power than in principle… The president held up the Bible at St. John’s Church yesterday. I just wish he’d open it once in a while. Instead of brandishing it. If he opened it he could have learned something.”
Biden added that the Bible calls for unity and love, even though it’s hard work. Trump, he says, has “no interest” in that kind of work.
Trump "might also want to open the US Constitution once in a while. If he did, he'd find a thing called the First Amendment... the right of the people peaceably to assemble," Joe Biden says. "That's America... not using the American military to move against the American people." pic.twitter.com/UsPRWXc510— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) June 2, 2020
Biden then went on to say that Trump should also examine the constitution, where he could learn about the First Amendment, which promises Americans the right to gather and peacefully protest.
Trump has faced intense criticism after National Guard troops and police officers dispersed the crowd so that he could walk outside of the White House gates and pose with a bible in front of the church. As the New York Times reports, presidential adviser Hope Hicks thought it would be a good idea for the president, who has been called weak for retreating to a secure bunker during the demonstrations, to do the photo op.
Other critics pointed out that Trump didn’t pray or address the unrest gripping the nation while at the church.