Former Vice President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit on Sunday to the site in Wilmington, Del., where protests took place the night before, one of dozens of protests across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
It was the second time in a week that Biden left his home, following a brief Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at a veterans memorial in New Castle, Del. Biden has been campaigning exclusively from his house since coronavirus lockdowns began, repeatedly saying he is following stay-at-home orders issued by Delaware's governor.
We are a nation in pain right now, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 31, 2020
As President, I will help lead this conversation — and more importantly, I will listen, just as I did today visiting the site of last night's protests in Wilmington. pic.twitter.com/0h2ApbKT0C
As cities across the country have been overwhelmed by sometimes violent protests responding to Floyd's death — and as President Trump has stoked divisions with tweets about "vicious dogs" ready to respond to White House protests, labeling of Minnesota protesters as "thugs" and repeatedly blaming unrest on Democratic mayors and governors — Biden has tried to increase his visibility to portray a more empathetic and conciliatory approach to leadership.
"We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us," Biden wrote on Twitter and Facebook, alongside a picture of him on one knee, wearing a mask, speaking to a black man holding a child. "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."
"The only way to bear this pain is to turn all that anguish to purpose," Biden's post continued. "And as President, I will help lead this conversation — and more importantly, I will listen, just as I did today visiting the site of last night's protests in Wilmington."
Biden's campaign posted a picture of the visit on social media but provided no additional information about how long Biden stayed at the protest site, how many people he talked to or when on Sunday he made the visit, which was not announced beforehand.
While Biden and his campaign had purposely taken a low-visibility approach to the early days of the coronavirus crisis, preferring instead to keep the focus on President Trump and the daily press briefings credited with eroding the president's approval ratings, Biden has been much more responsive to Floyd's death and its aftermath, which have triggered a level of national protest not seen since the late 1960s.
Biden delivered a five-minute speech from his Wilmington home Friday, framing Floyd's death as the latest example of a centuries old "open wound" of racism in the United States. Floyd's death, Biden said, was "an act of brutality so elemental it did more than deny one black man in America his civil rights and human rights. It denied him of his very humanity and denied him of his life."
Earlier Friday, Biden spoke to Floyd's family on the phone. Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, told MSNBC on Saturday that during the call, "I asked him could he please, please get justice for my brother."
A later call from President Trump, Floyd said, was much briefer. "I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept, like, pushing me off," Floyd said.