Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said violence in Portland, Oregon, that left a supporter of Donald Trump dead is "unacceptable" and urged the president to stop "fanning the flames of hate and division in our society."
"I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same," Biden said in a statement. "We must not become a country at war with ourselves."
A man linked to a right-wing group called Patriot Prayer that supports Trump was shot and killed in Portland Saturday night after hundreds of Trump supporters clashed with those protesting the shootings of Black men and women by police.
The statement is the strongest language yet by Biden, with about two months left to the November general election. The nation has been wracked by racial justice protests since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man who died while in custody of the Minneapolis police.
Most of the protests have been peaceful, but there have been instances of property damage and clashes with law enforcement.
Chad Wolf, Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, on Sunday blamed local officials in Portland and other cities for fostering an "environment of lawlessness and chaos" and wouldn’t rule out sending in federal troops, even if local officials don’t want them.
While critical of Black Lives Matters protests that have become violent, Biden said the president is "recklessly encouraging violence" by armed men who have shown up at some of the protests around the country as counter-protesters.
The death in Portland followed the killing of two BLM protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week. A 17-year-old who posted support for police has been charged with homicide in that shooting.
"As a country, we must condemn the incitement of hate and resentment that led to this deadly clash," Biden said of the Portland shooting. "It is not a peaceful protest when you go out spoiling for a fight. What does President Trump think will happen when he continues to insist on fanning the flames of hate and division in our society and using the politics of fear to whip up his supporters?"
Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, said on "Fox News Sunday" that Biden will be speaking out in battleground states to discuss the violence.
She didn’t say where Biden plans to make campaign stops this week, though the nominee said last week that he plans to begin traveling to critical election states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Arizona after Labor Day.
Bedingfield didn’t rule out a visit to Kenosha. Trump will visit the city on Tuesday.
The Wisconsin city was rocked by violent protests after police were filmed shooting a Black man, Jacob Blake, in the back multiple times at close range a week ago.
Bedingfield’s sentiment was echoed by other Democrats on Sunday, including Representative Karen Bass of California, who said Trump is stoking violence in cities because he believes it benefits his re-election prospects.
Bass said on CNN’s "State of the Union" that Trump’s upcoming trip to Kenosha has "one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to agitate things and to make things worse."
Chad Wolf, Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security on Sunday blamed local officials in Portland for fostering an "environment of lawlessness and chaos" and wouldn’t rule out sending in federal troops, even if local officials don’t want them.
© Copyright 2021 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.