Richard Trumka, who leads the nation's , told Fox News on Saturday that it was "reprehensible" to exploit issues surrounding inequality as an excuse to
His comments came after multiple U.S. cities saw riots break out in response to the death of in Minneapolis.
"Racism affects Democrats and Republicans alike ... We had the chance to have a real conversation and we still have that opportunity," Trumka told Fox News host Neil Cavuto.
"Those that seek to perpetuate violence or use this as an excuse to do illegal things I think are reprehensible and I hope we as a nation can look past that, Neil, to say that in order to bring our country back together, in order to heal us, to bring some of the gaps in this country that truly exist, we need to have a conversation about racism, about inequality, and we shouldn't let those people on the fringes that want to use violence or any other excuse to do this, we shouldn't let them detract from that conversation."
Trumka also indicated that America was overdue for a conversation about racism, especially after Floyd's and the death of in Georgia.
"You know, what happened to George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery has been going on for a while, and racism plays an insidious role in the daily lives of working people of color. That's why we consider it a working issue. Inequality exists and, Neil, for too long, we as a nation have avoided saying that out loud," he said.
"We avoided doing anything. And we can no longer sit by and be silent or sit still and I hope that the irresponsible and reprehensible actions of those that perpetuate violence aren't used as an excuse for the nation not to have that conversation yet again because I can tell you, our nation needs that conversation to be able to come together, to heal some of the wounds that are out there and to correct some of the inadequacies and unfairness that exists -- and those that perpetuate this type of stuff, threaten that conversation and I think that's just flat wrong.
"I think it's wrong what they do. It's wrong to threaten people, but it is even more wrong to detract completely from having the conversation that this nation so sorely needs to have.