Biden says he spoke with Jacob Blake, praises family’s ‘resilience and optimism’ during Kenosha visit – NBC News

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Joe Biden had a private meeting with the family of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin on Thursday, where he spoke to the paralyzed Blake on the telephone.

The meeting took place in Milwaukee before the Democratic presidential nominee headed to Kenosha, the city where Blake, a Black man, was shot at least seven times in the back by a white police officer. The shooting, which left Blake paralyzed, has sparked days of anti-racism protests in the city.

“Jacob Jr. shared about the pain he is enduring, and the vice president commiserated. The vice president told the family that he believes the best of America is in all of us and that we need to value all our differences as we come together in America’s great melting pot,” said Blake’s lawyer, Ben Crump, who listened in on the meeting by phone.

Biden, speaking a short time later in Kenosha, said Blake “talked about how nothing was going to defeat him,” and whether “he walked again or not, he was not going to give up.”

He said “what I came away with was the overwhelming sense of resilience and optimism” that the family has “about the kind of response they’re getting. His mom talked about — my wife asked to say a prayer. And his mom said a prayer. She said, ‘I’m praying for Jacob and I’m praying for the policeman as well. I’m praying that things change.'”

Sept. 3, 202002:32

Crump said the family was moved by the meeting. “It was very obvious that Vice President Biden cared, as he extended to Jacob Jr. a sense of humanity, treating him as a person worthy of consideration and prayer,” Crump added.

In Kenosha, Biden attended a socially-distanced community meeting at Grace Lutheran Church with local civic and clergy leaders, activists, business owners, police officials and first responders.

Biden spent most of the program listening to the speakers, and told attendees that if elected president, he’d address the impact of the “original sin of the country,” slavery.

“I can’t tell you everything will be solved in four years. But I can tell you one thing, it’s gonna be a heck of a lot better,” he said.

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he hoped to bring a message of progress and unification to Kenosha, where the protests have gone on for days and fires destroyed some buildings. Violence has also followed — a 17-year-old Illinois resident, Kyle Rittenhouse, is charged with homicide in connection with the shooting deaths of two protesters.

At the community meeting, Biden reiterated his call for protests to be peaceful. “So regardless how angry you are if you loot or you burn you should be held accountable as someone who does anything else. Period. It’s just cannot be tolerated across the board,” he said.

After their stop in Kenosha, the Bidens went to the town of Wauwatosa, where they had a conversation in a supporter’s backyard with three local mothers about the need for a national school reopening plan.

Biden’s visit came two days after Trump toured the city to review damage from the protests. Trump met with law-enforcement officials during his visit.

Erin Perrine, the Trump campaign’s director of press communications, told Fox News on Thursday that Trump went in his “official capacity as a unifier to provide resources and to be a healer. Joe Biden’s just going for more political division and that’s really disappointing as a city like Kenosha tries to come back.”

Biden’s trip came against the suggestion of local NAACP president Anthony Davis, who’d also unsuccessfully urged Trump to stay away.

“I said that Kenosha would welcome them any other time,” Davis said. “But things here are fragile. And we, in this community, really need to put our energy into healing ourselves, sitting down and speaking in detail only the way that locals can.”

The Wisconsin trip was Biden’s first in 2020. Last month’s Democratic National Convention was hosted in Milwaukee, but Biden remained in Delaware because of coronavirus concerns and the event was almost entirely virtual.

In 2016, Trump carried Wisconsin — which hadn’t been visited by then Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — by under 23,000 votes.

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