Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden met the family of Jacob Blake, an African-American man who was shot seven times in the back by a police officer, in the protest-hit city of Kenosha where the incident took place on August 23.
Biden’s visit on Thursday came two days after President Donald Trump’s trip during which he blamed the “anti-American riots” for the “destruction” in the city that has witnessed week-long violent protests, reports Xinhua news agency.
Upon arrivinf in Kenosha, Biden and his wife Jill met Blake’s father, brother, two sisters and members of his legal team in private.
Blake and his mother called into the meeting for about 15 minutes from the hospital.
He is recovering but partially paralyzed.
“He (Blake) talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how whether he walked again or not he was not going to give up,” Biden told an audience of about 20 socially distanced local activists and business leaders later.
The former Vice President, wearing a mask, heard from a white business owner who said her store had been destroyed by rioters and an African-American attorney who pleaded with him to address criminal justice reform.
“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,” said Biden.
He blamed Trump for inflaming racial tensions in the country, saying the President’s law-and-order message was not breaking through to voters.
During his visit on Tuesday, Trump did not meet with the Blake family, since they requested their lawyers be involved, which according to the President was “inappropriate”.
Kenosha has become a new epicentre of protests and riots against police brutality and racism last month.
Nationwide protests were triggered earlier this year after George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Biden has made race relations a pillar of his run for the White House in response to the movement, while Trump has focused on violent aspects of the demonstrations and doubled down on his support for police officers.
On Monday, Biden strongly dismissed Trump’s accusations that the he is anti-law enforcement or condones violence in cities including Kenosha and Portland, Oregon.
“Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple,” Biden said in a statement.
“And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change. It will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way.”
Wisconsin is a critical battleground state in the November 3 presidential election.
In 2016, Trump won the state by roughly 23,000 votes.