US President Donald Trump has defended his supporters for their alleged roles in recent deadly street clashes.
He suggested that a teenager accused of killing two people in Wisconsin last week and that Trump fans involved in clashes in Oregon on Saturday were acting in self-defense.
Mr Trump pointed out that his Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden did not specifically disavow far-left activists accused of civil unrest.
Mr Biden tops the opinion polls ahead of the November election.
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Qu’a dit Trump?
At Monday’s White House press conference, Mr. Trump blamed Mr. Biden and his allies for the violence in cities run by Democratic mayors and governors.
A CNN reporter asked the Republican president if he would condemn his supporters who fired paintballs during a confrontation with counter-protesters this weekend in Portland, Oregon.
In the street clashes that followed, a member of a right-wing group, Patriot Prayer, was killed by a suspect who allegedly described himself as a member of antifa, a weakly affiliated network made up mostly of far-left activists .
On Monday, police named the man who was shot as Aaron Danielson. No arrests were made.
“Well, I understand they had a large number of people who were supporters, but it was a peaceful protest,” Mr Trump replied to the CNN reporter, in a seemingly veiled search in US media that he’s previously accused of ignoring violence at Black. Lives Matter demonstrations.
“Painting as a defensive mechanism, painting is not bullets.
“Your supporters, and they are indeed your supporters, shot a young man who – and killed him, not with paint, but with a bullet. And I think it’s shameful. ”
Another reporter asked Mr Trump if he would condemn a shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, allegedly by a teenager pictured at one of the president’s rallies.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, is accused of shooting three people, including two fatally, last week amid protests in the city over the shooting of Jacob Blake by police.
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“We’re looking at all of this,” Mr. Trump said, “it was an interesting situation, you saw the same tape that I saw, and he was trying to get away from it, I guess, it looks like. And he fell, then they attacked him very violently.
“And that was something we’re looking at right now, and it’s under investigation.
“I guess he had really big problems, he probably would have been killed.
Qu’a dit Biden?
Earlier Monday, Mr Biden strongly condemned the violence during the recent protests while accusing President Trump of making the country dangerous.
It was the Democratic nominee’s most determined effort to date to counter Republican criticism that he was weak on law and order.
“Do I look like a radical socialist with a thing for rioters? Said Mr. Biden, speaking in Pittsburgh, in the critical US election condition of Pennsylvania. ” Really? ”
The former US vice president accused Mr Trump of fomenting violence in the United States for years.
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“You know,” Biden said, “he may believe that saying the words law and order makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting like an armed militia in this country shows just how he is weak. ”
“Does anyone think there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is re-elected? ” He asked.
The Democratic candidate did not respond to any questions from the media.
Mr Biden’s remarks have been a pivot of his main line of attack so far – that the White House has mismanaged its response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 180,000 people in the United States.
What did Biden say beforehand?
Mr. Biden had already spoken out against violent protests between May and July on several occasions, according to a Washington Post fact check.
Democrats barely addressed the issue at their convention August 17-20, focusing instead on racial justice and the African-American victims of police brutality. Riots and looting were a central theme of the Republican convention a week later.
Since the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin on August 23 reignited the civil war, Mr. Biden and his campaign have renewed their criticisms of the violence during the protests.
According to the Associated Press news agency, Biden has been pressured by anxious Democrats – including within his campaign – to further speak out against violence linked to the protests.
Research by Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Aug. 11 found support for racial justice protests fell by 13 percentage points and Black Lives Matter’s by 10 percentage points. points, from June to August.
Wisconsin – which played a pivotal role in Mr. Trump’s unexpected election victory four years ago – is a go-to state for Democrats in November.