Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will visit Kenosha, the Wisconsin city where the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake reignited protests over racial injustice, on Thursday, his campaign said.
Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, “will hold a community meeting in Kenosha to bring together Americans to heal and address the challenges we face,” his campaign said Wednesday.
Biden also will meet with Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., and other Blake family members during the visit, according to a family spokesperson and campaign official.
The trip comes two days after President Donald Trump visited Kenosha, ignoring the objections of local leaders, including Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who said in a letter to Trump that he was “concerned your presence will only hinder our healing.”
Biden told reporters Wednesday that he has received “overwhelming requests” from Democratic leaders that he travel to Wisconsin.
“What we want to do is – we’ve got to heal. We’ve got to put things together. Bring people together,” Biden said.
The shooting of Blake – which left him paralyzed from the waist down, his family says – has moved police brutality, racial injustice and the looting and property damage that have followed some protests to the forefront in one of the nation’s most important swing states in November’s general election.
Trump is trying to hold onto at least one of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – the three states that catapulted him to the presidency in 2016 after he narrowly won each of them. He is also seeking to put Minnesota, a state Hillary Clinton won and where some property damage took place amid largely peaceful protests following George Floyd’s death after a police officer knelt on his neck, in play.
Trump’s campaign launched television ads in Minnesota and Wisconsin on Wednesday driving a “law and order” theme, featuring in those ads lies about Biden’s position on defunding the police – which the former vice president has repeatedly said he opposes – and falsely claiming that Trump deployed the National Guard in Wisconsin, an action taken by Evers, the governor.
In a speech Monday in Pennsylvania, Biden hammered Trump for fomenting racial unrest, failing to address police violence and sidestepping responsibility for the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis.
“Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?” Biden asked repeatedly in a speech in Pittsburgh.
He also condemned violence, looting and property damage – and lambasted Trump for failing to condemn, and partially praising, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old charged with allegedly killing two protesters in Kenosha.
“I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted,” Biden said. “Violence will not bring change, it will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way.”
Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, said last week they spoke to the family of Blake. Biden also spoke to the family of Floyd and visited them in person in Houston.
While in Kenosha on Tuesday, Trump did not meet with the family of Blake. Trump claimed that he’s not meeting with Blake’s family during his Wisconsin visit because they wanted to involve lawyers. The pastors of Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, took part in one event.
During the trip, Trump was asked by a reporter whether he thinks systemic racism is a problem in the United States, given that there are also peaceful protests around the country calling for an end to it. The President responded: “Well, you know you just keep getting back to the opposite subject. We should talk about the kind of violence we’ve seen in Portland and here and other places.”
“The fact is that we’ve seen tremendous violence and we will put it out very, very quickly if given the chance,” he continued.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez, Dan Merica and Sarah Mucha contributed to this report.