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Trump, Biden trade blame over peaceful protests and violent incidents

The political battle over U.S. peaceful protests against racial injustice -- and select incidents of violence related to those protests -- is intensifying. While the White House continues to blame local Democratic officials in the cities where unrest persists, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said President Trump has “fomented” the violence for years. Yamiche Alcindor reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    A political battle is intensifying tonight over protests against racial injustice and incidents of violence.

    Amna Nawaz will focus in a moment on what's happening with some of the armed civilian groups and the role of police.

    But, first, White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports on how the presidential candidates addressed it today.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Amid a weekend of largely peaceful protests, dueling messages on who bears the blame for outbursts of violence.

    In Pittsburgh today, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden pointed at President Trump.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can't stop the violence, because, for years, he has fomented it.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    After the speech, President Trump tweeted — quote — "To me, he's blaming the police far more than he's blaming the rioters."

    White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Democrats are at fault.

  • Kayleigh McEnany:

    When the Trump administration arrives in a Democrat-run city engulfed in chaos, peace is restored, law and order is upheld.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The vast majority of nationwide demonstrations sparked by the killing of George Floyd in May have not turned violent, but incidents of shootings, property damage and looting have ignited debates over how authorities should respond and whether demonstrators on both sides have gone too far.

    President Trump has attacked the efforts of local Democratic officials. In scores of tweets this weekend, he keyed in on new clashes in Portland, Oregon.

    The city has seen nearly 100 days of protests against police violence. It began Saturday, when supporters of the president drove through the city in a 600-vehicle caravan rally. They were met by counterprotesters along the route, and some of the president's supporters fired paintball guns into the crowds.

    That led to clashes, which were eventually broken up by the police. After the caravan left, a backer of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer was shot and killed. It's unclear if the rally and the shooting are related. And the gunman has not yet been pinpointed.

    Sunday night, police arrested at least 29 people in separate demonstrations. And, today, Oregon State Police returned to Portland.

    Sunday, the city's Democratic mayor accused President Trump of fomenting unrest.

  • Mayor Ted Wheeler:

    Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence, it's you who have created the hate and the division.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    President Trump defended his supporters on Twitter. And, this morning, he again threatened federal intervention, writing — quote — "If this joke of a mayor doesn't clean it up, we will go in and do it for them."

    Meanwhile, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, tensions remain high ahead of a planned presidential visit tomorrow. On Saturday, roughly 1,000 people peacefully marched in the streets to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police.

    Last Sunday, an officer shot Blake seven times in the back. His family says he is now paralyzed. At the march, his father demanded the officers involved be held accountable.

  • Jacob Blake Sr.:

    My nature is to protect my son, to stand up for my son when he cannot stand up.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    President Trump has criticized the local response to the protests in Kenosha, which has seen some violence.

    On Tuesday night, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old, showed up at the protests with a long gun. He claimed to be protecting businesses. He was later charged with shooting three people, killing two.

    As Kenosha copes with the unrest, the city's mayor and Wisconsin's Governor Tony Evers, both Democrats, urged the president not to come. In a letter to President Trump on Sunday, Evers wrote — quote — "I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing."

    Today, the president tweeted that his visit will go ahead.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.

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