When a mother from Kenosha, Wisconsin, got the chance to speak to Joe Biden during his trip to a church in the city, she abandoned the original list of demands she was asked to present to the Democratic presidential nominee and instead spoke candidly.
“I’m just going to be honest, Mr. Biden. I was told to go off this paper, but I can’t. You need the truth. And I’m part of the truth,” Porche Bennet, 31, told the former vice president.
In her heartbreaking plea, Bennet expressed the frustration she and her community feel in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was left paralyzed after a Kenosha police officer shot him in the back several times.
She also highlighted the difference between the protesters and the rioters.
“I was born here, raised here ... I have to give you the truth of the people. And the truth of the matter is we are heavily angry,” she said, speaking to a small group of people at Grace Lutheran Church.
“There’s a difference between a protester and a rioter. A very big difference,” Bennet added. “We protest to get our voices heard. We protest to show that not just Blacks are tired of what’s going on.”
Bennet’s organization, Black Lives Activists Kenosha (BLAK), gave her the list to read to Biden, she later told The Washington Post. Biden remained quiet as the woman spoke.
“I’m only 31, and I’ve seen enough within these last two years to say I’m tired. I’m a mother,” she said, listing her children’s ages.
Though she went off-script, Bennet still posed a few demands, among them: “Hold these officers accountable to the same crimes that we get held accountable to.”
And she continued with questions:
Why are they not being done the same exact way that me and my brothers and sisters are being treated? Why are there more police officers in the Black neighborhoods than the white neighborhoods? Why are we being targeted more than anybody else?
We walk somewhere, automatically it’s ‘You fit the description.’ We wear something, automatically it’s ‘You’re a bad person.’ I’m only 31 and I’ve seen enough within these last two years to say I’m tired.
I do this because I want their future to be better than what I have right now because my present is not good.”
All of the officers involved in Blake’s shooting are on administrative leave, including Rusten Sheskey, the officer who shot Blake. Sheskey appears to be white. The Department of Justice is leading the investigation into the shooting, and no charges have been filed yet.
In the days after the Aug. 23 shooting, protesters took to the streets in Kenosha demanding justice while urging officials to abolish racial injustice and police brutality. The protests also spawned riots, leaving parts of the city destroyed.
On Aug. 25, a teenage vigilante, who is white, fatally shot two protesters and wounded a medic at the protest. He’s been charged with several counts, including first-degree intentional homicide.
While there was some confusion around who gave Bennet the paper to read from while speaking to Biden, Bennet clarified to the Post that the demands were given to her by BLAK.
“That piece of paper is from my organization. It was just little specific demands that we wanted put out there. But I felt like much more was needed to be said,” she told The Washington Post. “So, I didn’t go off our demands strictly on the paper. I spoke straight from my heart. ... I felt like he needed to hear more of what was from our hearts.”
Biden spent the day in Kenosha on Thursday to speak to community leaders, take questions from residents and meet with the Blake family. He spoke with Blake, who remains hospitalized, over the phone.
HuffPost has reached out to BLAK and the Biden campaign for comment.
Watch Bennet’s full plea to Biden here: