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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has on several occasions denounced violence, arson and looting tied to protests against police brutality
Shortly after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Biden said “needless destruction” and “violence that endangers lives” is not necessary
A week after Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake, Biden said he condemns violence “of every kind by anyone,” a direct conflict with Trump’s claim that he has failed to critique violent groups.
As we inch toward a presidential election amid a reignited national conversation around race and police brutality, President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden continue to take aim at each other on the issue.
Trump spoke on Sept. 1, 2020 with law enforcement and business owners in Kenosha, a city reeling after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, which spawned nights of unrest that came to a head when, prosecutors say, a 17-year-old from Illinois shot and killed two protesters.
The day the president visited, his Wisconsin campaign released a statement criticizing Biden for being weak on issues of "law and order," a message Trump has championed as he seeks re-election.
The statement included this claim: "Biden failed to condemn far-left violent groups like Antifa, instead faulting only the brave men and women of law enforcement."
It’s a talking point Trump and his allies have begun to push, despite significant evidence to the contrary.
Let’s take a look.
Days after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck and the city — and nation — erupted in protest, Biden said: "Protesting such brutality is right and necessary … But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not."
On June 2, 2020, he said: "There is no place for violence, no place for looting or destroying property or burning churches, or destroying businesses."
On Aug. 26, 2020, three days after Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake, Biden said in a video: "Burning down communities is not protest, it’s needless violence — violence that endangers lives, violence that guts businesses, and shutters businesses that serve the community. That’s wrong."
Last Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, Biden tweeted, "I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right," and encouraged Trump to pledge to do the same.
And, in Kenosha he said this: "Protesting is protesting … but none of it justifies looting, burning or anything else."
To be sure, Biden has not blamed Antifa by name, but on July 28, 2020, he said: "Arsonists and anarchists should be prosecuted … local law enforcement can do that."
And in condemning "violence of every kind by anyone," he certainly includes any Antifa supporters.
Trump also claims that Biden has instead faulted "only the brave men and women of law enforcement." As noted, he has not solely faulted law enforcement.
But what is Trump referring to?
At one point, Biden did criticize the actions of federal officers sent to Portland, Ore., to help control protests, saying in a statement that the agents had been "brutally attacking" peaceful protesters and were "stok(ing) the fires of division," as the Trump campaign notes in a separate release.
But that focused on a particular issue in a particular place. It was not a widespread condemnation of law enforcement officials who are facing protests and violence across the country. And it is not the only place he has laid blame, as the litany of other comments shows.
Trump’s campaign claimed that "Biden failed to condemn far-left violent groups like Antifa, instead faulting only the brave men and women of law enforcement."
Numerous statements from Biden decrying violence, arson and looting tied to protests against police brutality show that claim is demonstrably untrue.
We rate the claim False.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Donald Trump blames 'anti-American riots' for unrest in Kenosha, doesn't focus on Blake or Rittenhouse shootings," Sept. 1, 2020
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Joe Biden to visit Kenosha on Thursday and visit Jacob Blake family, making his first campaign visit to Wisconsin," Sept. 2, 2020
Email, Trump Wisconsin campaign, Sept. 1, 2020
Washington Post, "Trump and allies keep accusing Biden of not condemning violence — shortly after Biden condemns violence," Aug. 31, 2020
Medium, "Biden: We are a nation furious at injustice," May 30, 2020
Philadelphia Inquirer, "Joe Biden accuses Trump of ‘accelerating’ divisions and vows racial reconciliation in Philadelphia speech," June 2, 2020
Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Biden vows to fight racial inequality with economic agenda," July 29, 2020
New York Times, "Biden condemns racism and says that ‘burning down communities is not protest,’" Aug. 26, 2020
Joe Biden, Twitter account, Aug. 30, 2020
Reuters, "Biden accuses Trump of 'egregious tactics' in Portland protest crackdown," July 21, 2020
Trump campaign, "FACT: The only group Joe Biden has condemned is law enforcement," Aug. 31, 2020
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