Biden meets family of Black man shot by police before heading to Kenosha
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden began a visit to the battleground state of Wisconsin on Thursday by meeting with the family of Jacob Blake, the Black man whose shooting by a White police officer sparked days of sometimes violent protests.
Biden spent more than an hour in private with Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., his siblings, and one of his attorneys, B’Ivory LaMarr. Blake’s mother Julia Jackson and another attorney, Ben Crump, joined by phone. Blake remains hospitalised after being shot seven times in the back as authorities tried to arrest him.
The trip, Biden’s first to Wisconsin in the general election campaign, was intended to draw sharp contrasts with President Donald Trump.
During his trip to Wisconsin, Trump did not meet or speak with the family of Blake, who was injured from the shooting and paralysed from the waist down.
Trump instead pushed a message of law and order as he met police, other first responders and residents whose businesses were damaged or destroyed in the violent protests that followed the shooting of 29-year-old Blake.
Community meeting in Kenosha
On Thursday, after his meeting with the Blake family, Biden heads south to nearby Kenosha where he will participate in a community meeting in an effort to “bring together Americans to heal and address the challenges we face”, according to the campaign.
Kenosha is one of the latest in a series of US cities shaken by racially charged unrest.
Demonstrations, some of them violent, occurred in May and June in Minneapolis, in the neighbouring state of Minnesota, and elsewhere after a police officer there killed an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Protests also hit south Los Angeles this week after sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a Black man during a violent confrontation.
Demonstrations have rattled Portland, Oregon for weeks, prompting Trump to threaten to send in federal forces to cities where “weak” Democratic leaders have failed to quell violence.
Biden’s campaign picks up
As Biden visits the city at the heart of recent US protests against racism and police brutality, Trump is barnstorming across battleground states, pitching his “law-and-order” message and reiterating his attacks on the integrity of mail-in voting.
The pandemic-induced lockdown has left Biden spending most of his time hunkered in his Wilmington, Delaware home or delivering nearby speeches to reporters, but that slack period appears to be coming to an end.
With the two candidates now sprinting to Election Day on November 3, Biden has announced his intention to return to the campaign trail in earnest for the first time since March, when in-person campaigning was scrapped due to the coronavirus.
Trump long ago threw caution to the wind. In recent weeks he has visited Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, New Hampshire and North Carolina, with a rally scheduled for Thursday evening in Pennsylvania, a major swing state.
Biden’s trip to Wisconsin, which Trump narrowly flipped from Democrats in his improbable 2016 election victory, is a campaign call that also aims to help an embattled city “move forward” after days of violent and deadly unrest.
“We’ve got to heal,” Biden, 77, said Wednesday in Delaware.
“And so my purpose in going will be to do just that, to be a positive influence on what’s going on.”