Joe Biden said Wednesday that he supported the peaceful protests that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin but denounced the “needless violence” that followed, including a fatal shooting overnight.
Repeating the same sentiments he expressed following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Democratic presidential nominee said Wednesday that “protesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary but burning down communities is not protest.”
Biden is seeking to emphasize sympathy for the victims of police brutality and the frustrations of those who want to end racial injustice, providing a contrast to President Donald Trump’s stern “law-and-order” response. But as voters become increasingly worried about the violence that has wracked U.S. cities since Floyd’s death in late June, the former vice president must also try to hem in the frustration that is boiling into lawlessness.
“Needless violence, violence that endangers lives, violence that guts businesses, shutters businesses that serve the community. That’s wrong,” he said in a video taped at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
An Illinois teenager was arrested Wednesday after two people were shot dead in Kenosha, where protesters clashed with armed counterprotesters and police.
Biden said he spoke to Blake’s parents, sister and other family members on Wednesday and vowed that “justice would be done.” Earlier Wednesday, Blake’s mother said on CNN that she’d missed a call from Trump.
Biden also asked Americans to “put yourself in the shoes of every Black father and every Black mother in this country and ask, is this what we want America to be? Is this the country we should be?”
Biden also sounded a note of sympathy for Blake’s children, who saw their father get shot by a police officer as he entered their car. “It’s horrible what they saw, watching their father get shot,” he said. “What I saw on that video makes me sick.”
His running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, told a group of female voters in Michigan during a virtual event that she joined the call between Biden and the Blake family.
She called the shooting “just the most recent tragic example of what we need to focus on around reforming the criminal justice system.”
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