President Biden on Tuesday, weighing in on the murder conviction of ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, left out the rioting, looting, arson and worse that broke out around the country amid a summer of unrest following George Floyd’s Memorial Day death.
The president said the protesters, most of whom were peacefully and lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights, were demonstrating “in peace and with purpose.”
He made no mention of the rioting, although authorities from around the country for months warned that bad actors were exploiting legitimate protests to loot and damage property, commit arson — and in some cases — murder.
Despite estimates that only a tiny percentage of protests led to riots, insurance companies reported more than $1 billion in property damage. Factor in overtime for first responders and the totals surpassed the infamous Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992 as the most expensive in American history.
More than 140 U.S. cities saw repeated protests in the three weeks immediately following Floyd’s Memorial Day death.
David Dorn, a retired St. Louis police captain, tried to intervene as he witnessed looters ransacking a pawn shop on June 2, days after Floyd’s death. One of the suspected looters, 24-year-old Stephan Cannon, allegedly gunned him down and was later charged with numerous offenses including first-degree murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
At least four active-duty St. Louis police officers were shot that night, according to authorities, and more than 50 city businesses suffered looting or vandalism.
In Seattle, at least four shootings, two of them fatal, were linked to the so-called Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, before police cleared encamped activists out of the area.
In Minneapolis, which saw fiery protests in the days immediately following Floyd’s slaying in the custody of its own police department, more than 400 businesses were damaged, costing more than $500 million in losses, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported at the time.
In Portland, Oregon, nightly downtown protests raged for months, with reports of brawling between protesters and counterprotesters, looting, vandalism and dangerous objects hurled at police. Mayor Ted Wheeler warned late last month that city residents were “sick and tired” of the antics — even after opposing Trump administration efforts to quell the chaos with federal law enforcement.
Biden, however, used his speech to focus on political solutions to criminal and racial justice reform –ignoring the rash of unrest.
Meanwhile police departments around the country took dramatic extra security precautions Tuesday in anticipation of the Chauvin verdict, fearing further rioting should he be acquitted and anxious they might still see unrest even after the jury found him guilty.
“The knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans — profound fear and trauma — the pain, exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day,” Biden said. “The murder of George Floyd launched a summer of protest we hadn’t seen since the Civil Rights in the ‘60s.”
Biden said that the protests “unified people of every race and generation in peace and with purpose to say enough, enough, enough of this senseless killings.”
Meanwhile, Biden said that Floyd’s “legacy” should be “one of peace, not violence.”
“Peaceful expression of that legacy are inevitable and appropriate, but violent protest is not,” Biden said. “And there are those who will seek to exploit the raw emotions of the moment, agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice, who seek to carry out violence, destroy property, fan the flames of hate and division– who will do everything in their power to stop this country’s march toward racial justice.”
Following those remarks, he and Vice President Kamala Harris called on the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and William La Jeunesse contributed to this report.