Joe and Jill Biden Set a Sharp Contrast on Their Visit to Kenosha
The former vice president and his wife held a community meeting to help the city heal and met with the family of Jacob Blake.
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Wisconsin being a battleground state was always going to be important in deciding who will win the 2020 presidential election, but after a police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha launched another cry for racial injustice and public safety to be addressed, it became inevitable that both President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden would visit.
On Aug. 23, Jacob Blake was “breaking up a fight” according to his family’s attorney when police officers arrived at the scene.
After resisting arrest, he walked to his car to open the door and that was when he was shot in the back seven times. Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down and he spent multiple days handcuffed to a hospital bed.
This led the city of Kenosha to experience massive demonstrations which resulted in fires and property damage.
President Trump traveled to the city on Tuesday even after Wisconsin’s governor wrote him a letter saying that his presence would only hinder the community's healing and delay their efforts to overcome divisions.
In his visit, he met with the owners of businesses that were destroyed from the violence and law enforcement officials.
Many of the people taking part in similar demonstrations across the country and those sympathetic towards them are calling for police departments to be defunded or have part of their funds redistributed.
But during a roundtable on community safety, Trump announced the federal government would allocate $42 million to Wisconsin’s law enforcement. Kenosha’s law enforcement will receive $1 million.
While he was in Kenosha, he did not meet with Blake’s family and has yet to speak with them.
The president has claimed that he has reached out to them, but declined a meeting because the family wanted their lawyers involved.
Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, was asked how he felt about Trump’s visit while he was hosting a community event on the street his nephew was shot on.
“We’re not going to let anyone smudge my nephew’s name,” he said. “We don’t have any words for the orange man in the White House.”
When former vice president Biden landed in Kenosha, it was the first time he visited the Badger State since launching his third presidential bid.
He was supposed to accept the Democratic party’s nomination for president in Milwaukee on Aug. 20, but because of the ongoing pandemic, he did so from his home state of Delaware.
The Democratic mayor of Kenosha, John Antaramian, told CNN on Monday that he was disappointed the president was coming to his city, but he also hoped that Biden would have waited to visit.
“I would also prefer if the [former] vice president waited until next week before he came. Regrettably politics is now playing more and more into, because of the president’s visit, as to what’s going on,” the mayor said.
Antaramian and Wisconsin’s governor have both stressed the trips of both politicians would be a drain on security resources.
The state’s Democratic senator, Tammy Baldwin, commented on president Trump coming to Kenosha.
“When President Trump came [to Kenosha], he really stoked division," she said.
A Fox News poll from Wisconsin that was conducted between Aug. 29 and Sept. 1 has Biden leading Trump by eight points.
Biden made the trip two days after Trump with his wife Dr. Jill Biden.
They first met with Blake’s family, but that conversation was open to the press.
The former vice president later hosted a meeting with community leaders in Kenosha church and there he disclosed part of what Jacob told him.
#BREAKING: Joe Biden talks about conversation with Jacob Blake: "He talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how whether he walked again or not he was not going to give up." pic.twitter.com/SdxRmGzE0r— The Hill (@thehill) September 3, 2020
“He talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how whether he walked again or not, he wasn’t going to give up,” Biden said.
He then listened to people of different professions and backgrounds voice their concern about the criminal justice system and the violence resulting from the ongoing protests.
The Democratic nominee offered some of his solutions to the issues highlighted by the speakers that they believe are holding Black communities across American behind.
Passing a $15 minimum wage, sending those that consume illegal drugs to rehabilitation instead of prison and directing more money for available housing were among some of the proposals he outlined.
When addressing those involved in the demonstrations, he respected their right to protest and condemned those who committed violent acts when doing so.
"Regardless how angry you are, if you loot or you burn, you should be held accountable," said Biden.