Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) condemned Friday violent protests around the country sparked by police killings of unarmed black citizens, including the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in McConnell's hometown of Louisville.

The big picture: McConnell said that he supports free speech and peaceful protests condemning the killings, which he said "have shaken our nation." But he said that he believes recent violent protests are not an exercise of free speech, but instead "violent crime that victimizes innocent people."

What he's saying:

"Generations of heroes have fought and died to protect Americans’ First Amendment rights to voice their anger and engage in peaceful protest. I have championed these liberties my entire career. Stealing, burning down buildings, attacking law enforcement officers, or laying siege to police precincts is not speech or protest. It is violent crime that victimizes innocent people.
"Kentuckians cannot and will not accept violence and chaos on our streets. Seven people were shot in Louisville last night, and according to Mayor Fischer, none of those shots were fired by law enforcement. This senseless behavior has to stop.
"Our city, our state, and our country have to pull together. Violence does not make our streets safer. Injustice does not promote justice. Destruction does not build a better society. We will only be able to chart the future we want if we do it together."

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