Calling George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police “an act of brutality,” Joe Biden on Friday said there should be a greater national reckoning with what he called the nation’s “open wound” of racism, arguing that “the very soul of America is at stake.”
In a live address from his home in Delaware that occurred as news surfaced that one of the officers involved has been arrested and taken into police custody, Biden said he had spoken with members of Floyd’s family.
"The pain is too immense for one community to bear alone,” Biden said. "I believe it is the duty of every American to grapple with, and to grapple with it now. With our complacency, our silence, we are complicit in perpetuating these cycles of violence. Nothing about this will be easy or comfortable. But if we simply allow this wound to scab over once more, without treating the underlying injury, we will never truly heal.”
Biden, who had long styled himself as a law-and-order Democrat and touted his close ties with police and first responders, said there needed to be reforms that hold police officers “to a higher standard,” including holding “bad cops accountable.”
He also drew a contrast with President Donald Trump, who drew fire for early morning tweets that said where there was looting, there would be shooting.
“This is no time for incendiary tweets. It’s no time to encourage violence. This is a national crisis and we need real leadership right now,” he said. “Leadership, that will bring everyone to the table so we can take measures to root out systemic racism."
Biden’s address comes days after the 46 year old Floyd was seen on video being pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer with his knee to Floyd’s throat, which ultimately led to his death.
He recounted how the Floyd family and the rest of the country had to once again hear the words “I can’t breathe.”
“An act of brutality so elemental, it did more than deny one more black man in America his civil rights and human rights. It denied him of his very humanity, it denied him of his life,” Biden said.
At a fundraiser Thursday night, Biden noted that Floyd’s cry that he couldn’t breathe echoed Eric Gardner’s words.
He also addressed Trump’s tweets with a thread of his own earlier Friday.
“[Trump] is calling for violence against American citizens during a moment of pain for so many. I’m furious, and you should be too,” Biden said in a tweet.