Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has started his visit to the election battleground of Wisconsin by meeting with the family of Jacob Blake, the black man whose shooting by a white police officer sparked days of protests.
- Jacob Blake spoke to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden over the phone from his hospital bed
- Mr Blake is paralysed from the waist down after being shot seven times in the back by police
- President Donald Trump did not meet with Mr Blake’s family during his visit to Kenosha
Mr Biden spent more than an hour in private with Mr Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr, his siblings, and one of his attorneys, B’Ivory LaMarr, at the Milwaukee airport, while Mr Blake, his mother Julia Jackson and attorney Ben Crump joined by phone.
Mr Blake spoke about the pain he was in from his hospital bed and the presidential hopeful commiserated.
The family has said Mr Blake is paralysed from the waist down after being shot seven times in the back by police as they tried to arrest him on August 23.
Mr Crump said Mr Blake’s mother led everyone in prayer for his recovery.
After the meeting, Mr Biden went to a community discussion at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, which included business and civic leaders and at least two representatives of law enforcement.
At the church, Mr Biden accused President Donald Trump of emboldening “the dark side of human nature” with things like his comments after the 2017 far-right rally in Charlottesville, during which a white nationalist killed a woman with his car.
Mr Trump visited the city on Tuesday but did not meet with Mr Blake’s family.
He visited a furniture store that was destroyed in rioting and suggested that Democrats like Mr Biden condoned the violence that has at times disrupted demonstrations, although Mr Biden has condemned the violence.
Mr Trump has also described a shooting during the Kenosha protests by 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who allegedly killed two protesters, as an “interesting situation” and suggested the teen was acting in self-defence.
The shooting comes months after the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, which sparked global protests about police brutality and institutional racism.
Trump zeroes in on urban America as part of campaign
Mr Trump has increasingly made the national protests over racial inequality and police brutality a central theme of his campaign to be re-elected on November 3, casting himself as the “law and order” President.
He has repeatedly blamed Democratic politicians for being unable to reign in protesters, despite evidence to the contrary.
During his visit to Kenosha, Mr Trump claimed he was responsible for quelling unrest by calling in the US National Guard, despite the fact that Wisconsin’s Governor, a Democrat, was responsible for the request.
Governor Tony Evers said he had asked both Mr Biden and Mr Trump not to visit.
Mr Trump has threatened to defund city governments that are experiencing protests over police brutality.
In the order yesterday, he instructed Attorney-General William Barr to develop a list of “anarchist jurisdictions” that “permitted violence and the destruction of property … and have refused to undertake reasonable measures” to restore order.
His comments came after the shooting death on the weekend of Trump supporter Aaron Danielson in Portland, Oregon, which the President blamed on the “lawless” state of the city under Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler.
But the US Conference of Mayors said the order had no legal standing, and would make cities less safe by slashing resources for police and first responders.
Mr Wheeler and the mayors of New York, Seattle and Washington, DC, said any attempt to withdraw federal money would be unconstitutional and defeated in court.
“Trump needs to wake up to the reality facing our cities — and our entire country — and realise he is not above the law,” the mayors said in a joint statement.
The United States is experiencing escalating clashes between right-wing and left-wing groups as police shootings of black people spark protests and counter-protests in the run-up to the November 3 presidential election.
Portland has become a focus of the presidential election campaign after more than three months of demonstrations for policing and social justice reforms, with hundreds of arrests as protesters clash with police and destroy property.
Anti-fascists had fought with supporters of the right-wing Patriot Prayer group in Portland every weekend since mid-August, before Saturday’s shooting.