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

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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

JIM WAT­SON/AFP VIA GETTY IM­AGES

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den speaks with com­mu­nity mem­bers Thurs­day at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wis­con­sin.

CAROLYN KASTER/AP

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den prays Thurs­day dur­ing a com­mu­nity event at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wis­con­sin.

ALEX WONG/GETTY IM­AGES

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.

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