By Trevor Hunnicutt
(Reuters) – Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday called for protesters against police brutality not to turn to violence as unrest flared in U.S. cities overnight.
Biden issued a statement just after midnight as protesters in several major U.S. cities vented outrage at the death of a black man shown on video gasping for breath as a white Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck.
“Protesting such brutality is right and necessary,” Biden said in the emailed statement. “But burning down communities and needless destruction is not.”
He added: “We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us.”
Biden will face President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election. Trump’s re-election campaign manager, Brad Parscale, on Saturday said that Biden should deliver a more forceful condemnation of violence.
Biden’s remarks echoed a statement on Saturday by prominent black civil rights activist and U.S. Representative John Lewis of Georgia.
Lewis, who in 1965 was beaten unconscious by Alabama state troopers during a march for voting rights, called for protesters to “be constructive, not destructive,” though he said he knows their pain.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)