Biden: Time to act now to heal US racial divide

WASHINGTON President Joe Biden said on Tuesday it was "time to act now" to heal America's racial divide, taking several steps and promising more to confront racism and inequality that he said has plagued the United States for far too long.

Racial tensions simmered during the turbulent four-year presidency of Mr Donald Trump and, in issuing several executive orders, Mr Biden said the Jan 6 siege of the US Capitol by Trump supporters was carried out by "thugs, insurrectionists, political extremists and white supremacists".

Mr Biden said he believed the vast majority of Americans believe in equality, however.

"We've never fully lived up to the founding principles of this nation - to state the obvious - that all people are created equal and have a right to be treated equally throughout their lives," Mr Biden said.

"And it's time to act now, not only because it's the right thing to do, but because if we do we'll all be better off for it."

Mr Biden took executive action on four fronts: Curbing the US government's use of private prisons; bolstering anti-discrimination enforcement in housing; reaffirming the government's commitment to Native American tribal sovereignty; and condemning discrimination against Asian Americans and Americans of Pacific Island descent that has risen during the coronavirus pandemic, which is believed to have originated in China.

Mr Biden and other critics accused Mr Trump of pursuing policies built around "white grievance" in a nation where the white population is declining as a percentage of the whole. - REUTERS