Biden tells Kenosha residents their pain will help US confront racism, discord
Democratic presidential candidate also talks to police shooting victim, meets with family
KENOSHA, Wis. (WKBT) — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told Kenosha residents that the police and protest violence their city has endured in recent days can help the United States finally confront centuries of systemic racism and social discord.
“We’ve got to heal, we’ve got to put things together, bring people together,” said Biden, who spoke to community members at Grace Lutheran Church.
Biden also spoke by phone with Jacob Blake during his visit to Kenosha Thursday with his wife, Jill. A Kenosha police officer’s shooting of Blake, who is black, Aug. 23 led to several days of protests and violence, including an Illinois teenager’s alleged shooting deaths of two protesters.
Blake “talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, about how whether he walked again or not, he was not going to give up,” said Biden, who talked with the 29-year-old for about 15 minutes.
Blake’s family members have said he is paralyzed from the waist down after being shot seven times. The shooting remains under investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Biden said Jill asked to say a prayer, and Blake’s mother, who also was on the phone, invoked a prayer.
“I’m praying for Jacob, and I’m praying for the policeman as well. I’m praying that things change,” Biden quoted her as saying.
Biden met in person with other Blake family members before leading a community discussion in Kenosha.
Blake’s attorney, Ben Crump, said Blake shared the pain he is enduring, and Biden commiserated.
The family was grateful for the meeting and impressed with Biden’s willingness to listen, Crump said.
President Donald Trump was in Kenosha Tuesday but did not meet with Blake’s family. He and other White House officials surveyed some of at least 30 businesses that protesters looted, burned and otherwise damaged.
The president also announced $41 million in federal aid to Kenosha and the rest of Wisconsin to support community-based crime-fighting initiatives, local victim service programs and hiring and training of law enforcement officers and prosecutors across the state.
Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who had asked Trump not to go to Kenosha out of fear of increased violence, said he also did not want Biden to visit.
Evers told reporters during a conference call Thursday that he would “prefer that no one be here, be it candidate Trump or candidate Biden,” but “candidates can make their decisions” and “it is what it is.”
Evers said he was upset that Trump and others at a round table discussion inside did not wear masks, despite the governor’s statewide mandate to wear them.
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