Race segregation ‘sneaking back in’ across US, Biden warns at South Carolina rally

Race segregation ‘sneaking back in’ across US, Biden warns at South Carolina rallyJoe Biden has warned racial segregation is “sneaking back in” across the US as he accused Republicans of making voting more difficult for minorities during his first presidential campaign rally in South Carolina.The former vice president is considered the frontrunner in the state, which will host the South’s first presidential primary. Black voters will play a key role there. Criticising Republican efforts to to restrict early voting hours and introduce more stringent identification requirements, Mr Biden told a rally in Columbia: “You’ve got Jim Crow sneaking back in.”As the crowd of 700 people cheered in agreement, he added: “You know what happens when you have an equal right to vote? They lose.”Mr Biden was referring to the collection of state and local laws which enforced racial segregation in the South between the late 19th century and the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1950s. Jim Crow was the name of a minstrel routine that came to be used as a derogatory term for African Americans.Mr Biden cited a figure that at least 24 states have introduced or enacted at least 70 bills to restrict voting access, and said most of those efforts targeted “people of colour”.Mr Biden’s frontrunner status in South Carolina is partly due to his popularity among black voters. However, earlier this year he said he regretted supporting the “tough-on crime” drug legislation of the 1990s, criticised for leading to an era of mass incarceration and disproportionally affecting black Americans.Mr Biden also spent much of his speech denouncing Donald Trump, criticising his remarks after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent in 2017.In response to the clash that left a counter-protester dead, Mr Trump had said there were “very fine people on both sides.””Think about that,” Mr Biden said. “I don’t ever recall a president of the United States, Democrat or Republican, ever saying anything like that. Ever.”He added: “We have to restore the soul of America. That’s not who we are.”In his speech, Mr Biden also emphasised his eight year tenure as vice president to Barack Obama.“He’s a hell of a guy,” he said at one point, referring to Mr Obama.Mr Biden played a key role in the Obama administration’s relations with China, travelling to the country in 2011 for a series of meetings with then vice president Xi Jinping.In an interview before his rally in South Carolina, he said that US “can defeat China in every way”.The remarks came after Mr Biden was criticised for minimising the threat from China after he said the country was “not competition for us” at a campaign stop in Iowa earlier this week.Speaking to WIS-TV, he said: “I never said China’s not a threat. I said we can, if we invest the right way, we can defeat China in every way.“I’m the guy that told the Chinese that when they set up these air defence zones, we’re not going to pay attention.”We’re gonna fly right through them … China understands that our problems are negligible compared to what they have to face.”Mr Biden will continue his South Carolina trip by visiting a black church in Columbia.Additional reporting by AP

 

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