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Biden: 'We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us'
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is condemning the violence associated with protests over the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, saying that while the nation is in pain, "we must not allow this pain to destroy us."
Biden said in a statement early Sunday that the past few days have "laid bare that we are a nation furious at injustice."
"Every person of conscience can understand the rawness of the trauma people of color experience in this country, from the daily indignities to the extreme violence, like the horrific killing of George Floyd," the former vice president said.
He added that protesting such brutality is "right and necessary" as well as an "utterly American response."
"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," he said.
"The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest," he added. "It should not drive people away from the just cause that protest is meant to advance."
Biden's comments came after a fifth night of demonstrations over the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody on Monday.
A video of the incident showing Floyd pleading for breath as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck sparked massive outrage. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He and three other officers were fired.
Police and protesters in recent days have clashed in multiple cities where shots have been fired, fires have been set and stores have been looted.
Biden said early Sunday that he knows Americans are suffering for reasons ranging from the loss of a loved one due to "intolerable circumstances," such as the Floyd family, to economic hardships caused by COVID-19, which has resulted in approximately 40 million Americans filing unemployment claims, and entrenched systemic inequalities. He also said that the only way to bear the suffering is to turn "all that anguish to purpose."
"We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us," he said. "We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us."
Biden said if he is elected, he would help lead the conversation and listen.
"I will keep the commitment I made to George's brother, Philonise, that George will not just be a hashtag," he said.
"We must and will get to a place where everyone, regardless of race, believes that 'to protect and serve' means to protect and serve them. Only by standing together will we rise stronger than before," he added. "More equal, more just, more hopeful - and that much closer to our more perfect union."
President Trump, whom Biden is expected to face in the November election, also condemned the violence in remarks on Saturday.
"The death of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis was a grave tragedy. It should never have happened. It has filled Americans all over the country with horror, anger and grief," Trump said at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., after viewing the historic SpaceX launch.
"I understand the pain that people are feeling. We support the right of peaceful protesters, and we hear their pleas. But what we are now seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with justice or with peace," Trump continued. "The memory of George Floyd is being dishonored by rioters, looters and anarchists."
Trump earlier in the day sparked criticism by saying that protesters in Washington, D.C., would have been met with "vicious dogs" an "ominous weapons" if they breached the White House fence.