Concern as Joe Biden appears to freeze during White House Juneteenth celebration

Concern as Joe Biden appears to freeze during White House Juneteenth celebration

US president Joe Biden sparked concern after appearing to freeze during a concert at the White House to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday.

As Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and others danced energetically at the event held ahead of next week’s national holiday, the Commander-in-Chief stood almost completely still.

The president was seemingly motionless in the footage for more than 20 seconds before Philonise Floyd, brother of the late George Floyd, who was next to him seemed to notice the president’s pause and drape his arm around him in support.

The incident came before Mr Biden seemed to slur his words during his speech at the event.

Republicans seized on the incident amid claims of Biden’s cognitive decline.

“Lights are on but no one’s home,” the Trump campaign’s “war room” account posted on X.

It comes after the Wall Street Journal published a bombshell report last week claiming Mr Biden’s cognitive decline has become readily apparent to dozens of high-ranking officials in recent months.

The White House has maintained the 81-year-old is still a top leader and critics have claimed the majority of the sources for the Wall Street journal report were mainly Republicans.

Biden’s age is an election issue as he seeks a second term that would see him potentially serve in the White House until he is 86. Mr Biden has said his memory is “fine”.

The celebration at the White House on Monday ahead of the Juneteenth holiday on June 19 included Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle.

“Black history is American history,” Biden told the crowd.

The Democratic president warned that some “old ghosts” in new clothes - a veiled reference to some of his Republican rivals - seek to take away their freedoms by making it harder for Black Americans to vote.

Joe Biden at the Juneteenth concert at the White House (AP)
Joe Biden at the Juneteenth concert at the White House (AP)

This year’s concert came as the presidential election is intensifying, with Black voters sure to play an important role. Biden won 91% of Black voters in 2020, according to AP VoteCast.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, the former president, contends that more Black voters are turning his way. While Black Americans have consistently voted Democratic, minor changes in political loyalties or low turnout in key states could influence who wins in November.

The Juneteenth concert had blatant political overtones with emcee Roy Wood Jr, the comedian and actor, ticking through policy achievements by the Biden administration such as capping insulin prices and forgiving student debt.

Biden signed a law in 2021 that made June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday. It commemorates the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in the United States learned they were free, more than two years after then-President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that liberated slaves in the Confederacy during the Civil War.