Biden slams Trump for church 'photo op' as protests rage on

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee delivered a speech in his first visit outside of his home state since March

Joe Biden slams President Trump for Bible photo-op

Joe Biden slams President Trump for Bible photo-op
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Joe Biden on Tuesday condemned President Donald Trump a day after police drove back peaceful protesters near the White House so Mr Trump could pose with a Bible before a damaged church.

Mr Biden said Trump's "narcissism has become more important than the nation that he leads."

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee delivered a speech at Philadelphia's City Hall, addressing the civil unrest across America following the death of George Floyd. Biden said "the moment has come" to deal with systemic racism and deeply ingrained economic inequality - and insisted that the nation can't wait until November's election and its outcome.

"I call on the Congress to act this month," Mr Biden said, urging politicians to start "with real police reform" and citing proposed legislation outlawing choke holds.

But Mr Biden stepped up his criticism of Trump as he works to elevate his voice in the national debate - after more than two months of the campaign for the White House being frozen amid the outbreak of the coronarvius.

"This president today is part of the problem and accelerates it," Mr Biden said, adding that Trump is "consumed with his blinding ego."

Mr Biden's criticism comes a day after Mr Trump threatened the nation's governors that he would deploy the military to states if they did not stamp out violent protests over police brutality that have roiled the nation.

At least five US police officers were shot and wounded during violent protests over the death of Floyd, police and media said, hours after Mr Trump vowed on Monday to deploy the military if unrest did not stop.

Mr Biden is aiming to strike a careful balance between validating anger over police mistreatment of minorities while condemning violence as a response.

His speech on Tuesday marks the first time he has left his home state of Delaware since mid-March, when the outbreak of the novel coronavirus forced him to campaign largely from his house.

After the president's address on Monday afternoon, Mr Trump posed for pictures with his daughter, Ivanka, and US Attorney General William Barr at St John's Episcopal Church near the White House.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church diocese in Washington DC, Michael Curry, was among those who criticised Mr Trump's use of the historic church for a photo opportunity.

"In so doing, he used a church building and the Holy Bible for partisan political purposes," he said on Twitter. The church suffered minor fire damage during protests on Sunday night.

The White House said it was clearing the area before a curfew.

A few hours later, thousands of people marched through Brooklyn, shouting "Justice now!" while some passing drivers honked in support.

Television images showed crowds smashing windows and looting luxury stores along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan before the city's 11pm curfew. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the curfew would be moved to 8pm on Tuesday.