Joe Biden, the Democratic Party presidential nominee, met with the family of Jacob Blake Thursday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake is the Black man whose shooting by a white police officer set off days of protest and rioting in the midwestern city.
Biden’s campaign said the former vice president and his wife, Jill Biden, met in private with Blake’s father, other family members and one of Blake’s lawyers.
Biden said he also spoke on the phone with the wounded man, who remains under treatment in a hospital. He "talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how whether he walked again or not, he was not going to give up,” Biden reported.
He also said Blake had been moved out of intensive care. Blake is partly paralyzed from the shooting.
Biden said his wife and Blake’s mother, who was also on the call, both said prayers. Blake’s mother said, ”I’m praying for Jacob and I’m praying for the policeman as well. I’m praying that things change.’”
President Donald Trump, the Republican Party candidate, was in Kenosha two days earlier. He did not meet with Blake’s family during the September 1 visit. He walked through damaged areas in the city and met with police officials to discuss how to contain the violence.
After the meeting with Blake’s family, Biden held a community meeting at a church in the city. Clergy, activists, small business owners and others attended the meeting.
Biden spoke about the 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville where a man killed a young counter-protester. Biden criticized a comment Trump made after the killing, that “they’re very fine people on both sides.”
“It legitimizes the dark side of human nature,” Biden said of the comment. Biden added, "We've reached an inflection point in American history. I honest to God believe we have an enormous opportunity now that the screen, the curtain has been pulled back on just what’s going on in the country, to do a lot of really positive things.”
Kenosha is a city of 100,000 people in the important political battleground state of Wisconsin. Trump narrowly won the state in the 2016 election. The latest polls, however, show Biden with a small lead there for the upcoming November 3 election.
On Thursday, a small group of Biden supporters, some Black Lives Matter activists and a Trump supporter gathered at a Kenosha park that had been a focal point of demonstrations for days.
Michelle Stauder, who was holding a Biden-Harris campaign sign, told the Associated Press, “No one’s perfect...But I’m excited about Biden. And I like that he’s here spreading the word of peace and rebuilding.”
Nearby is Kenneth Turner with a Trump-Pence sign under his arm. He said, “Everyone is blaming Trump for everything…But problems here have been around a long time before Trump.”
Trump’s campaign manager said the candidate went to Kenosha because he is president. He added that Biden is only putting “politics into a really serious situation that [the] president helped solve.”
The president plans to hold a campaign event later Thursday night in the state of Pennsylvania. Biden himself was in Pennsylvania on Monday to praise law enforcement officials and denounce violence.
Pennsylvania is another battleground state that Trump narrowly won in 2016. Trump is also running behind Biden in the polls there.
I'm Caty Weaver.
Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English with additional reporting from the Associated Press. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
paralyzed - adj. unable to move part of the body
counter-protester - compound noun: a person who is against the protester
legitimize - v. make something acceptable
inflection - n. a change
enormous - adj. very great in size or amount
opportunity - n. a time or situation in which something can be done
positive - adj. good or useful