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Joe Biden meets privately with family of Jacob Blake during visit to Kenosha

Biden meets with Jacob Blake’s family in Kenosha
Biden meets with Jacob Blake’s family in Ke... 03:53

Washington — Former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden met on Thursday with the family of Jacob Blake during a trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, which was roiled by unrest after Blake, who is Black, was shot in the back seven times by a police officer. 

The Bidens met privately with members of the Blake family in a Milwaukee airport terminal. They spoke with Blake's parents, three siblings and members of Blake's legal team. Blake, a 29-year-old father of six, is now paralyzed from his injuries.

Ben Crump, Blake's attorney, said in a statement that Blake himself joined the conversation by phone.

"The family was grateful for the meeting and was very impressed that the Bidens were so engaged and willing to really listen," Crump said. He said that Blake's mother led the group in prayer, and his father talked about the need for systemic police reform.

"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 said.

Biden's visit to Wisconsin, a critical swing state that President Trump narrowly won in 2016, comes two months before the November election.

The former vice president then attended a meeting with community leaders later in the day. Addressing issues of racial justice, Biden said that there is "an enormous opportunity now that the curtain has been pulled back."

"I think we've reached an inflection point in American history," Biden said.

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Visits Kenosha, Wisconsin
Democratic nominee Joe Biden waves as he arrives at New Castle County Airport in Delaware for his trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020. Getty Images

Biden also talked about the need to enact criminal justice reform and treat people with addiction and mental health problems more compassionately. However, he also condemned recent rioting and looting which has taken place in Kenosha, addressing an owner whose store was damaged during the unrest.

"Protesting is protesting, it's a right, as my friend John Lewis would say. But that does not include looting, burning or anything else," Biden said.

Mr. Trump visited Kenosha earlier this week to survey property damaged in demonstrations after Blake's shooting and the killing of two protesters by a suspected vigilante shooter. Mr. Trump did not visit the Blake family during his visit, telling reporters that the family had requested a lawyer be present if they met, which he found "inappropriate."

Members of the Blake family and hundreds of demonstrators appeared at a community rally coinciding with Mr. Trump's visit, calling for justice at the site of the shooting. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, a leader of the civil rights movement for decades, spoke at the peaceful gathering.

Biden has condemned the violence in Kenosha, and pushed back against Mr. Trump's characterization of him as a radical leftist.

"Ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist, with a soft spot for rioters? Really?" he said during a speech on Monday. Biden also said Mr. Trump "fans the flames" of violence by refusing to denounce violent right-wing protesters.

"Fires are burning and we have a president who fans the flames, rather than fighting the flames," Biden said in his speech. "But we must not burn. We have to build. This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can't stop the violence because for years he's fomented it."

Mr. Trump has declined to denounce Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old White gunman charged with killing two people last week during a tumultuous night of protests. At a White House briefing on Monday, Mr. Trump suggested that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense, and "probably would have been killed" had he not fatally shot two protesters.

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