Washington, Aug 31 (efe-epa).- In a sign of how polarized the United States has become, President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival in the 2020 election, former Vice President Joe Biden, on Monday exchanged accusations of inciting violence after one person died in the racial disturbances on the weekend in Portland, Oregon.
The president started the day with a series of Twitter posts in which he blamed Portland’s mayor, Democrat Ted Wheeler, and the “radical left” for the local confrontations in recent days.
“Portland is a mess, and it has been for many years. If this joke of a mayor doesn’t clean it up, we will go in and do it for them!” threatened Trump on Twitter.
The West Coast city on Saturday night was the scene of clashes between Trump supporters and members of the Black Lives Matter movement, which resulted in the death of a man who was shot in the chest.
The protests have resurged in Portland after African American Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back on Aug. 23 by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where there had been protests and racial disturbances in recent days that have taken the lives of two people.
In another Twitter message, Trump unloaded on the mayors and governors of what he called the “radical left,” saying: “The Radical Left Mayors & Governors of Cities where this crazy violence is taking place have lost control of their ‘Movement’. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, but the Anarchists & Agitators got carried away and don’t listen anymore – even forced Slow Joe out of basement!”
The president sent out a final tweet in which he proclaimed “LAW & ORDER!”
Trump has taken advantage of the situation to reinforce his “law and order” message with an eye toward the Nov. 3 election, in which he is seeking another four years in office, while Biden on Monday reiterated his accusations against Trump for inciting violence rather than trying to dampen it.
“This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country,” Biden said at a campaign event in Pittsburgh. “He can’t stop the violence because for years he has fomented it.”
Biden went on, however, to say that “Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” adding that “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple, and those who do it should be prosecuted.”
Barack Obama’s vice president from 2009-2017 asked rhetorically in his remarks if anyone believes that there will be less violence in the US if Trump is reelected, emphasizing that some of the characteristics of a good president are to be direct, tell the truth and stick to the facts to lead rather than inciting violence.
He said that Trump was incapable of telling Americans the truth, unable to deal with the facts or to heal the rifts in US society, adding that the president wants to create tension and encourage violence in the cities.
The Democrat also called for an end to the racial altercations around the country.
He said that violence does not bring change but rather only destruction, adding that it divides instead of unites.
“He may believe mouthing the words ‘law and order’ makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is,” the former VP said.
Biden referred to Julia Jackson, Blake’s mother, elsewhere in his speech, noting that after the events in Kenosha she said that neither her son nor her family support the violence and destruction that has occurred in the wake of his shooting.
The former VP responded to Trump regarding the president’s accusations that he backs the so-called “radical left,” saying: “Ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”
The president’s reaction to Biden’s speech came quickly with yet another tweet, in which he said: “Just watched what Biden had to say. To me, he’s blaming the Police far more than he’s blaming the Rioters, Anarchists, Agitators, and Looters, which he could never blame or he would lose the Radical Left Bernie (Sanders) supports!”
In addition to the president’s remarks, the communications director for the Trump campaign, Tim Murtaugh, issued a statement blaming Biden for not condemning the violence, even though the ex-VP did condemn it, saying: “As predicted, Joe Biden today failed to condemn the left-wing mobs burning, looting, and terrorizing American cities.”
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that Trump will visit Kenosha on Tuesday despite the calls by the governor and the mayor for him not to travel there, where he evidently has no plans to meet with the Blake family.