HAR­RIS VIS­ITS BLAKE FAM­ILY

Also talks with la­bor lead­ers in Wis­con­sin

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

In her de­but in bat­tle­ground Wis­con­sin as the Demo­cratic vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, Ka­mala Har­ris, on La­bor Day, met with the fam­ily of Ja­cob Blake Jr. and pur­sued la­bor, Black and His­panic votes.

The Blake fam­ily mem­bers are “car­ry­ing the weight of a lot of voices on their shoul­ders,” Har­ris said.

Break­ing down mul­ti­ple in­ter­re­lated sto­ry­lines emerg­ing on Mon­day deal­ing with Blake and the loom­ing pres­i­den­tial vote:

On the Wis­con­sin push

Har­ris stumped in the Mil­wau­kee area Mon­day while Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence cam­paigned in La Crosse, in north­west Wis­con­sin. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump won Wis­con­sin by 22,000 votes in 2016 in a state Hil­lary Clin­ton never vis­ited.

The Evanston-raised Blake, 29, who is Black, was shot seven times in the back by a white Kenosha po­lice of­fi­cer on Aug. 23. The Blake shoot­ing sparked peace­ful protests and vi­o­lent, de­struc­tive ri­ots in the city be­tween Chicago and Mil­wau­kee on the Lake Michi­gan shore.

Trump was in Kenosha last Tues­day to show sup­port for law en­force­ment while ig­nor­ing Blake’s shoot­ing. Demo­cratic White House hope­ful Joe Bi­den on Thurs­day met with the Blake fam­ily — the hos­pi­tal­ized Blake joined by phone — and then held a ses­sion with com­mu­nity mem­bers dis­cussing sys­temic racism.

The Bi­den/Har­ris ticket needs a big turnout from Demo­cratic base con­stituen­cies — Black, His­panic and union mem­ber vot­ers.

Af­ter Har­ris spent about an hour with the Blake fam­ily, she toured an In­ter­na­tional Broth­er­hood of Elec­tri­cal Work­ers train­ing fa­cil­ity in the Mil­wau­kee sub­urb of Wauwatosa and talked with la­bor lead­ers and then dis­cussed Bi­den’s racial eq­uity eco­nomic plans with Black busi­ness own­ers in Mil­wau­kee.

She wrapped up the trip dis­cussing the COVID-19 pan­demic im­pact on es­sen­tial work­ers with His­panic com­mu­nity lead­ers at Mil­wau­kee’s Mitchell In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Har­ris and the Blake fam­ily

Har­ris spoke with the hos­pi­tal­ized Blake by phone while meet­ing with some of his fam­ily at the air­port af­ter she landed: His fa­ther, Ja­cob Blake Sr., two sis­ters iden­ti­fied by the cam­paign as Lete­tra Wid­man and Zi­etha Blake, and lawyers Pa­trick Salvi Jr. and B’Ivory LaMarr. Blake’s mother, Julia Jack­son, and lawyer Ben Crump were on the phone.

While on the tour of the IBEW fa­cil­ity, Har­ris, a Cal­i­for­nia sen­a­tor, was asked by a re­porter about the Blake fam­ily meet­ing.

Replied Har­ris, “Re­ally won­der­ful. I mean they’re an in­cred­i­ble fam­ily and what they’ve en­dured and they do it with such dig­nity and grace. And you know, they’re car­ry­ing the weight of a lot of voices on their shoul­ders.”

Asked about a mes­sage, Har­ris said, “Just to, one, to ex­press con­cern for their well­be­ing and of course, for their brother and their son’s well be­ing and to let them know that they have sup­port.”

In a CNN in­ter­view later Mon­day, LaMarr said Har­ris spoke “al­most as a fam­ily mem­ber” who was “es­sen­tially coun­sel­ing the fam­ily on grief and how to deal with th­ese things and pro­vid­ing a good out­look to our com­mu­nity.”

He also said the younger Ja­cob Blake has be­gun us­ing a wheel­chair “to kind of start get­ting around.”

Crump said in a state­ment, “Ja­cob Jr. told Sen. Har­ris that he was proud of her, and the sen­a­tor told Ja­cob that she was also proud of him and how he is work­ing through his pain.”

“Ja­cob Jr. as­sured her that he was not go­ing to give up on life for the sake of his chil­dren.”

Crump said Har­ris also dis­cussed the Ge­orge Floyd Jus­tice in Polic­ing Act — stalled in the GOP Se­nate af­ter clear­ing the Demo­cratic-run House — and “im­plicit bias train­ing.”

Blake Jr. is par­a­lyzed below the waist and suf­fers from other mas­sive in­ter­nal in­juries.

Crump in an Aug. 30 CBS “Face the Na­tion” in­ter­view said bul­lets hit Blake’s spinal cord and shat­tered a ver­te­bra. He lost most of his in­testines, his colon and use of other or­gans.

Har­ris was not asked in her brief ex­change with pool re­porters about pend­ing charges against Blake. Last Fri­day, wear­ing a shirt and tie in his hos­pi­tal bed, Blake in a Zoom hear­ing pleaded not guilty to charges of third-de­gree sex­ual as­sault and mis­de­meanor charges of dis­or­derly con­duct and tres­pass­ing, all stem­ming from a do­mes­tic in­ci­dent ear­lier this sum­mer.

Har­ris Chicago fundrais­ing

On Thurs­day af­ter­noon, ac­cord­ing to an in­vi­ta­tion ob­tained by the Chicago SunTimes, Har­ris head­lines a fundraiser billed as a Chicago vir­tual con­ver­sa­tion and re­cep­tion and aimed at Chicago donors. The top ask is for a $100,000 con­tri­bu­tion.

Trump back­ers rally in High­land Park

Flag-wav­ing Trump back­ers ral­lied on a cor­ner in down­town heav­ily Demo­cratic north sub­ur­ban High­land Park on Mon­day, spurring a counter-demon­stra­tion of Bi­den and Black Lives Mat­ter sup­port­ers.

SCOTT OL­SON/GETTY IM­AGES

Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris tours an In­ter­na­tional Broth­er­hood of Elec­tri­cal Work­ers train­ing fa­cil­ity on Mon­day in Wauwatosa, Wis­con­sin.

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