Bi­den to meet Blake’s fam­ily in Kenosha

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - LYNN SWEET D.C. DE­CODER lsweet@sun­times.com | @lynnsweet

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Joe Bi­den makes his first cam­paign trip to the key swing state of Wis­con­sin on Thurs­day, where he will meet with Ja­cob Blake’s fam­ily in Kenosha and try to draw a con­trast with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump by por­tray­ing him­self as a healer, not a divider.

Bi­den, with wife Jill, is ar­riv­ing af­ter Trump’s Tues­day visit, where he toured some of the worse de­struc­tion and de­clared, “Kenosha has been rav­aged by anti-po­lice and anti-Amer­i­can ri­ots.”

This Wis­con­sin stop, to in­clude a com­mu­nity meet­ing, will also be the sec­ond time Bi­den will be tak­ing him­self out of his care­fully con­trolled COVID-19 bub­ble and moves up the timetable of when his cam­paign said he would be re­sum­ing cam­paign travel. The orig­i­nal plan was to have Bi­den hit the swing-state road af­ter La­bor Day.

Bi­den’s meet­ing with the Blake fam­ily, who have roots in Chicago and Evanston, is ex­pected to dra­ma­tize his call to bring to­gether all par­ties in­volved in polic­ing is­sues, of­fer­ing vot­ers a stark dif­fer­ence to Trump’s scorched rhetoric while still ad­vo­cat­ing for po­lice and “law and or­der.”

The dif­fer­ence be­tween Trump and Bi­den is this: Trump is for law and or­der and re­jects sug­ges­tions that sys­temic racism has a con­nec­tion to mul­ti­ple ex­am­ples of po­lice mis­con­duct where Blacks are vic­tims.

Bi­den said he wants to bring to the “table” po­lice and peo­ple fight­ing for racial jus­tice.

Speak­ing to re­porters in Delaware on Wed­nes­day, Bi­den said, “I’m not go­ing to tell Kenosha what they have to do, but we have to do to­gether.

“. . . I spent my whole life, in­clud­ing in this city you’re in right now, bring­ing peo­ple to­gether. Bring­ing the com­mu­nity and po­lice of­fi­cers to­gether. Bring­ing busi­ness leaders and civic leaders to­gether. And so that’s my pur­pose in go­ing.”

While Wis­con­sin’s gover­nor and Kenosha mayor — both Democrats — said they did not want Trump to visit, Bi­den said he was re­spond­ing to an “over­whelm­ing” re­quest from Wis­con­sin leaders — whom he did not name — that he come.

Bi­den con­demned — again — ri­ot­ers who “en­gage in vi­o­lence, burn­ing, loot­ing, the rest, in the name of protest.”

Kenosha has been strug­gling with vi­o­lence in the wake of the shoot­ing of Blake, 29, at least seven times in the back by a white Kenosha po­lice of­fi­cer, leav­ing him par­a­lyzed and, ac­cord­ing to his at­tor­ney, Ben Crump, with many in­ter­nal or­gans badly dam­aged.

The sit­u­a­tion was fur­ther in­flamed when an An­ti­och teen, Kyle Rit­ten­house, 17, was charged with shoot­ing to death two men and wound­ing a third dur­ing Kenosha protests. Trump has re­fused to con­demn Rit­ten­house.

Blake fam­ily out­reach

Trump pulled back from feel­ers to talk to the Blake fam­ily be­cause, the pres­i­dent said, he did not want to be on a call with mem­bers of the fam­ily le­gal team. Sev­eral mem­bers of Blake’s fam­ily have been harshly crit­i­cal of Trump.

Bi­den and his run­ning mate, Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris, al­ready held a lengthy con­ver­sa­tion with Blake’s par­ents.

Trump is throw­ing a spotlight on two of Blake’s mother’s min­is­ters, James and Sharon Ward, whose church has a Skokie ad­dress. The two ac­cepted an in­vi­ta­tion to be part of Trump’s round­table in Kenosha on Thurs­day, a gath­er­ing where Ja­cob Blake’s name was never men­tioned by any of the par­tic­i­pants, in­clud­ing James and Sharon Ward.

Trump asked Pas­tor James Ward to of­fer an open­ing prayer, of­fer­ing ef­fu­sive praise. “I’d love to have that be­cause you are so highly thought of in the area.”

Af­ter the prayer, Pas­tor Sharon Ward said, “I think we need to mo­bi­lize peo­ple of prayer to pray for this coun­try.

“And also, I think it’s im­por­tant to have Black peo­ple at the table to help, you know, solve the prob­lem. And also, I think James and I, our prayer is that we’re able to work to re­ally bring about a change.

“I think there’s a lot of great change that’s been men­tioned here of how law en­force­ment has quickly solved the prob­lem of the crime in the street, but I think there’s — I think this is a good op­por­tu­nity for us to re­ally solve the prob­lem in the na­tion. And I think James and I could help with that,” she said.

Blake’s fam­ily said the Ward cou­ple do not rep­re­sent them.

For­mer VP Joe Bi­den

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