BIDEN PREACHES HEALING IN KENOSHA
Dem prez candidate speaks to Jacob Blake, strikes different tone from Trump saying city reveals ‘enormous opportunity’ to achieve racial equity
Democratic presidential nominee strikes different tone during visit than Trump two days earlier, speaks with Jacob Blake and family
Capping a week that has seen two men paint starkly different portraits of a deeply divided America, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden visited Kenosha on Thursday, declaring that the reeling Wisconsin city reveals “an enormous opportunity” for the nation to finally achieve racial equity.
“I am not pessimistic. I am optimistic about the opportunity if we seize it,” the former vice president said during a community meeting organized by his campaign.
“We’ve reached an inflection point in American history. I honest to God believe we have an enormous opportunity — now that the screen, the curtain, has been pulled back on just what’s going on in the country — to do a lot of really positive things,” Biden said.
Just two days earlier, President Donald Trump visited that same southeastern Wisconsin city, painting Kenosha as a place “ravaged by anti-police and anti-American riots” in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
But while the president never mentioned Blake by name, Biden not only spoke of him, the former vice president met with his family during his visit and talked with Jacob Blake himself by telephone.
For Biden, it was just his second trip outside a carefully controlled COVID-19 bubble over
the last few months of a pandemic-ridden election race. The Democratic nominee held court at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, just west of the downtown area that saw days of heated protests — and nights of violent unrest — following the Aug. 23 shooting of Blake.
Before he spoke, Biden heard from an exhausted Kenosha firefighter and local smallbusiness owner trying to rebuild, among just a couple of dozen masked and socially distanced attendees.
In a sometimes-meandering talk, the Democratic nominee said the devastation those workers had seen in their city reminded him of the destruction he saw in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. — and the encouragement he felt in seeing it rebuilt.
“I said, ‘Don’t tell me things can’t change’ … but I made a mistake about something,” Biden said. “I thought you could defeat hate. It only hides. And when someone in authority breathes oxygen under that rock, it legitimizes those folks to come on out from under the rocks.”
That circled Biden back to what he’s said prompted his White House run: Trump’s comments that there were “very fine people on both sides” of deadly clashes between protesters and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
“The words of a president matter, no matter [if] they’re good, bad, indifferent. They matter,” said Biden, who claimed Trump “gives succor to the white supremacists.”
“It’s not all his [Trump’s] fault. But it legitimized a dark side of human nature. What it did, though, was also expose what had not been paid enough attention to: the underlying racism that is institutionalized in the United States, that still exists and has for 400 years. So we end up with a circumstance like we have here in Kenosha,” Biden said.
“We’ve gone through wars, pestilence and plagues . ... And we’re finally now getting to the point where we’re going to be reaching the original sin of this country ... slavery and all the vestiges of it.”
He conceded “I can’t guarantee everything gets solved in four years.
“But I guarantee one thing: It’ll be a whole heck of a lot better. We’ll move a lot farther down the road,” Biden said.
Trump didn’t address racism during his visit to Kenosha on Tuesday, instead spotlighting the property damage and slamming “Democrat-run cities,” including Chicago, for their handling of “rioting, looting, arson and violence” over the summer.
Biden said, “Protesting is protesting … but none of it justifies burning, looting or anything else. So regardless how angry you are, if you loot or burn, you should be held accountable the same as someone who has done anything else, period.”
He also said, if elected, he’d launch a White House commission on policing, bringing together civil rights activists and police chiefs to address racial disparities in policing.
“A significant portion of the police are decent police, but there are a lot of bad folks in any organization. There are a lot of people who don’t want to speak up and be the odd man out or the odd woman out,” Biden said.
“I think there is a real chance for a real awakening here. I don’t think we have any alternative than to fight back.”
“WE’VE REACHED AN INFLECTION POINT IN AMERICAN HISTORY. I HONEST TO GOD BELIEVE WE HAVE AN ENORMOUS OPPORTUNITY — NOW THAT THE SCREEN, THE CURTAIN, HAS BEEN PULLED BACK ON JUST WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE COUNTRY — TO DO A LOT OF REALLY POSITIVE THINGS.’’ JOE BIDEN, on Thursday in Kenosha, Wisconsin
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks with community members Thursday at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden prays Thursday during a community event at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden greets Tim Mahone with an elbow bump as he meets Thursday with members of the community at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin.