Former Vice President Joe Biden will visit Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Thursday and meet with the family of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer last month.
Biden’s campaign said he would meet with Blake’s father and other family members “to heal and address the challenges we face,” the Democratic presidential nominee’s latest effort to cast himself as the political opposite of President Donald Trump.
“There’s been overwhelming requests that I do come,” Biden said at the news briefing on Wednesday. “I have gotten advice from sitting members of Congress and the Senate as well to go — and that I should go. I’m not going to do anything other than meet with community leaders as well as business people, other folks in law enforcement … to start to talk about what has to be done.”
The visit will be Biden’s first campaign stop in Wisconsin, a key swing state in the November election, in nearly two years.
The former vice president said the officer involved in Blake’s shooting and those behind the March killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman in Louisville, Kentucky, should be charged.
“I think we should let the judicial system work its way,” he said during a news conference. “I do think, at a minimum, they need to be charged, the officers.”
Biden’s visit will present a direct contrast to Trump, who visited Kenosha this week. Trump did not meet or speak with the Blake family and instead used the trip to present himself as a “law and order” president, touring sites damaged by demonstrations that have called for an end to police brutality.
Local leaders, including Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, both Democrats, had asked Trump to stay away, warning his visit would only cause more friction in a community that is “trying to heal.”
It’s unclear if city leaders will make a similar request of Biden.
The city of Kenosha has been reeling from ongoing demonstrations following Blake’s shooting Aug. 23, which caused a nationwide outcry after cellphone video was shared on the internet. Demonstrators have issued renewed calls for a reckoning of American policing and an end to systemic racism. The protests have at times become violent. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white vigilante from Illinois, has been charged in the fatal shootings of two protesters at a demonstration last week.
Antaramian said a curfew that had been imposed for more than a week would be lifted on Wednesday after a period of calm and peaceful protests, but he warned it could be reinstituted should that change.
“The last several nights have been relatively peaceful in the community, and in the judgment of law enforcement, it is appropriate to remove the curfew,” the mayor said.
Biden assailed the Trump administration Wednesday for its handling of coexisting crises, claiming the president would rather focus on unrest than the coronavirus pandemic. He pointed to difficulties faced by students and schools around the country, which have struggled to rein in infection rates.
“Where is the president? Why isn’t he working on this?” Biden said, according to The Associated Press. “We need emergency support funding for our schools — and we need it now. Mr. President, that is your job. That’s what you should be focused on — getting our kids back to school. Not whipping up fear and division — not inciting violence in our streets.”
Trump responded shortly after on Twitter, saying his administration would do “everything in its power to prevent weak mayors and lawless cities from taking Federal dollars while they let anarchists harm people, burn buildings, and ruin lives and businesses.”
“We’re putting them on notice today,” the president said.