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Crowds gather at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha for Joe Biden’s visit.
Journal Sentinel reporters are covering the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back multiple times by Kenosha police, and the shooting deaths of two men during subsequent protests in the city.
On Thursday, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden visited the city, just two days after President Trump made the trip. It’s Biden’s first appearance in Wisconsin this year.
Check back for updates as stories continues to develop.
RELATED: Kenosha residents say they’re wary of becoming backdrop for the 2020 presidential campaign
RELATED: Joe Biden says Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake should be charged
TUESDAY: Updates from Donald Trump’s visit to Kenosha
5:40 p.m.: This was a very different trip from Pres. Trump’s
The Biden visit was worlds apart — in substance and style — from Trump’s visit. Biden wore a mask while he spoke. Trump did not. Biden spoke by phone with Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot seven times by a white Kenosha police officer, and met with Blake’s family. Trump did not. Law enforcement was a central presence and theme of Trump’s visit, but not Biden’s.
Read our takeaways from the visit.
— Craig Gilbert
5:20 p.m.: Biden departs Wauwatosa to cheers from neighbors
Joe Biden was greeted by a cheering crowd in Wauwatosa as he left a small, backyard discussion about education Thursday evening.
A crowd of more than 200 supporters gathered outside throughout the hourlong event, where he and Jill Biden talked with three women, including educators and mothers, about the challenges of teaching children during the coronavirus pandemic.
They talked about the struggles and fears as parents worry their children are falling behind, and specifically addressed the challenges for teachers and working class parents trying to ensure all children have access to a quality education.
As Joe Biden left, he walked around waving to the cheering crowd that had gathered in the neighborhood. Many were chanting, “Let’s go, Joe!”
5:10 p.m.: Biden asks for support to two Wisconsin organizations
The Joe Biden campaign sent out an email asking for support to two Wisconsin-based organizations during his visit to the state.
“As you know, the Trump administration’s terrible response to the pandemic made it impossible for us to be together in-person in Milwaukee for the Democratic National Convention,” the e-mail read. “Even in strong economies, the convention’s host state looks forward to the financial boost the DNC gives.
“My campaign and I think we’ve found a way to help, but we’ll need you in a big way to get it done. We’re fundraising for United Migrant Opportunity Services and the Social Development Foundation, two Wisconsin-based organizations dedicated to supporting underserved communities across the state.”
4:35 p.m.: Biden makes stop in Wauwatosa
Joe and Jill Biden made their next stop in Wauwatosa to visit with a special education teacher and mother.
The informal roundtable discussion centered on the obstacles of working parents, low-income families with limited wireless access and parents who can’t afford to hire tutors as they struggle to navigate virtual learning.
.@JoeBiden arrives in Wauwatosa for a roundtable discussion at the home of a Democratic voter. pic.twitter.com/JJnxlQkp2r
— Molly Beck (@MollyBeck) September 3, 2020
Biden is visiting a home in Wisconsin’s 14th Assembly District, which used to be represented by @ScottWalker but is now represented by a Democrat, @RobynVining.
He and @DrBiden are hosting a roundtable on schools reopening with educators and parents.
— Molly Beck (@MollyBeck) September 3, 2020
.@JoeBiden & @DrBiden hear from a mother talking about the obstacles children face as they struggle to navigate learning amid the coronavirus pandemic. pic.twitter.com/qYtdxa7mJ8
— Mary Spicuzza (@MSpicuzzaMJS) September 3, 2020
4:15 p.m.: Trump campaign critical of Joe Biden’s visit to Wisconsin
Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for Trump 2020, was critical of Joe Biden’s trip to Wisconsin.
“Joe Biden made a political trip to Kenosha today — his first visit to Wisconsin — after months of saying he could not travel because of the science of coronavirus. What changed was political science, as he knows he in serious decline in the polls.
“To top it off, people participating in his church meeting in Kenosha were handed scripts to read from during the public comment period, proving again that Biden’s handlers don’t trust him in uncontrolled situations.
“Nevertheless, Americans didn’t hear any denunciation of Antifa or any other left-wing agitators who have rioted in American cities from coast to coast. He said nothing about Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ acceptance of federal assistance from President Trump to quell the riots and did not explain that he opposed calling in the National Guard to protect Americans from violent left-wing rioters. Joe Biden made the above-ground excursion from his basement for purely political reasons, and it shows.”
RELATED: Trump’s claims on National Guard rated ‘Pants on Fire’
Murtaugh’s contention that participants were handed scripts appeared to be a misinterpretation of one speaker’s comments at the event hosted at Grace Lutheran Church.
Porche Bennett, the organizer for Black Lives Activists Kenosha, opened her remarks with, “I’m just going to be honest, Mr. Biden, I was told to go off this paper, but I can’t.”
Bennett was referring to remarks prepared by her organization.
Her comments (beginning near the 43:00 mark in the video of the event) included expression of dismay with the inequalities she’s observed in her community.
“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.”
Bennett told Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post and pool reporters that she was not given a script from the Biden team but rather prepared remarks from her organization that she felt were too specific.
Bennett said the paper she had was given to her by her organization. The name of the group is Black Lives Activists Kenosha (BLAK) and Bennett is an organizer. Here’s what she told me about that paper and why she went off-script. 2/3
— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) September 3, 2020
“It was just little specific demands that we wanted put out there…but I felt like much more was needed to be said. So I didn’t go off our demands strictly on the paper. I spoke straight from my heart…He needed to hear more of what was from our hearts,” Bennett told me. 3/3
— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) September 3, 2020
— JR Radcliffe
3:32 p.m.: Biden says ‘There’s a chance for a real awakening here’
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At a community meeting at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Biden emphasized optimism and opportunity in the aftermath of a violent week in the southeast Wisconsin city.
Members of the community spoke about criminal justice, violent aftermath of the protests, police brutality and Black Lives Matter. Biden responded with plans to solve ongoing issues.
Biden did not shy away from discussing the racial tensions that boiled over this summer in response to the death of George Floyd and surged again last week when Jacob Blake was shot by a Kenosha police officer.
“We’ve gone through a lot. We’re finally now getting to a point, we’re going to be addressing the original sin of this country, 400 years old, the original sin of this country, slavery.”
He continued, “There’s a chance for a real awakening here, and the point is, I don’t think we have any alternative but too fight.”
— Lainey Seyler
3:11 p.m.: Biden details interaction with Jacob Blake during comments at church
During his many comments at Grace Lutheran Church, Joe Biden said he spoke to Jacob Blake by phone for about 15 minutes.
“He talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how whether he walked again or not he was not going to give up,” Biden said.
“Fear doesn’t solve problems. Only hope does. If you give up hope, you might as well surrender. There’s no other option.”
Biden also talked to Blake’s mother, son, brother and two sisters.
“What I came away with was the overwhelming sense of resilience and optimism that they have,” he said.
“His mom said a prayer and she said, ‘I’m praying for Jacob and I’m praying for the policeman as well. I’m praying that things change.’ If you think a little bit about where we are right now, it’s been a terrible, terrible wakeup call …
“You have to take responsibility if you’re a leader, a president.
“It’s really not about me but if there are four more years, we’re going to have four more years of the exact same thing, only it’s going to impact us for a couple generations,” he said.
Earlier, Biden said, “I made a mistake about something. I thought you could defeat hate. It only hides. It only hides.”
On Trump’s rhetoric and hateful incidents like Charlottesville: “It’s not all his fault, but it legitimizes the dark side of human nature. But what it did was it also exposed … institutionalized racism. What’s happened is we end up in a circumstances like we had here in Kenosha and have here in Kenosha.”
He called for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, overhauling the criminal justice system and providing more funding for housing and mental health programs.
— Patrick Marley
2:33 p.m.: Blake’s attorney: ‘It was very obvious that Vice President Biden cared’
Ben Crump, the attorney representing Jacob Blake, released a statement providing some details of the meeting between former Vice President Joe Biden and the Blake family at General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee earlier Thursday, shortly after Biden arrived for a visit to southeastern Wisconsin.
Crump said the meeting with Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden “was a very engaging 90-minute in-person meeting” that included Blake’s father, sisters and brother, with his mother and himself joining by phone.
Blake himself also joined by phone from his hospital bed.
“The family was grateful for the meeting and was very impressed that the Bidens were so engaged and willing to really listen,” Crump said. “Jacob’s mother led them all in prayer for Jacob’s recovery. They talked about changing the disparate treatment of minorities in police interactions, the impact of selecting Kamala Harris as a Black woman as his running mate, and Vice President Biden’s plans for change.
“Mr. Blake Sr. talked about the need for systemic reform because the excessive use of force by police against minorities has been going on for far too long. Jacob Jr. shared about the pain he is enduring, and the vice president commiserated. The vice president told the family that he believes the best of America is in all of us and that we need to value all our differences as we come together in America’s great melting pot. It was very obvious that Vice President Biden cared, as he extended to Jacob Jr. a sense of humanity, treating him as a person worthy of consideration and prayer.”
— JR Radcliffe
1:59 p.m.: Event begins at Grace Lutheran Church
Just a few dozen people were allowed inside Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, where Joe Biden made a stop, about two miles from where Jacob Blake was shot by police.
In a moment of levity, Biden declined to shake a man’s hand before feeling the man’s biceps instead.
“Nice guns!” Biden said.
Tim Mahone of the Mahone Foundation welcomed Biden to the event, telling him he would help the community heal.
“In this time of healing and hurt and pain we need that love and compassion,” he said. “We know that leadership is all about unity, not division. It’s about healing. We think you for being here today because we know your leadership is important.”
He added: “Let’s be clear: Black Americans face systemic racism in a variety of ways. Let’s be real about that.”
Rev. Jonathan Barker offered a prayer at the opening of the event. He asked God to allow Blake to walk again.
“We ask for justice for Jacob Blake,” he said. “We ask for justice for our community here in Kenosha.”
Biden sat at the front of the church, in front an altar, a large cross and a huge statue of Jesus Christ. Sunlight filtered into the room through colored blocks of glass that stretched from the floor to ceiling. He listened quietly as speakers talked about the need to address racial disparities in Kenosha.
About 60 people were at the event, including Biden’s staff and journalists.
In addition to Barker and Mahone, among those in attendance were:
- Reverend Monroe Mitchell III, senior pastor at Agape Love Christian Ministries
- Anthony Kennedy, Kenosha Common Council president
- Dena Feingold, rabbi at Beth Hillel Temple (and sister of former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold)
- Tim Thompkins, Kenosha resident and former Marine
- Lori Hawkins, Kenosha County Democratic Chair
- Angela Cunningham, attorney, ADC Law Office
- David Andrea, co-owner of Jack Andrea, a small business in Kenosha
- Katherine Marks, CEO, United Way of Kenosha County
- Jeff Weidner, former president of Kenosha Local IAFF 414
- Father Carlos Florez, pastor, St. Mark’s Church
- John Morrissey, Kenosha city administrator and former police chief of Kenosha
- Aaron White, police officer
- Barb DeBerge, owner of DeBerge Framing & Gallery
- Tod Ohnstad, Wisconsin State Representative and UAW member
- Mary Ann Pevas, Dominican Sister of the Racine Dominicans
- Jessie Metoyer, police lieutenant
- Peter Barca, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue
- Porche Bennett, organizer for Black Lives Activists Kenosha (BLAK)
— Patrick Marley
1:56 p.m.: Evers said he didn’t want either candidate to come to Wisconsin
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said he “made my position clear” when asked Thursday if he also preferred Joe Biden not come to Kenosha, just as Evers expressed in a letter that he preferred President Donald Trump also steer clear as the community heals from violence over the past 11 days.
“Candidates can make their decisions,” Evers said.
“I would prefer that no one be here (because of the coronavirus pandemic).”
Trump and Biden visited the city two days apart.
Evers said he spoke with Biden after the Democratic candidate for President landed in Milwaukee early Thursday afternoon.
Evers was asked how he responded to a comment from Pres. Donald Trump during an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham about police officers involved in shootings such as Blake’s. “They choke,” Trump said. “Just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot putt.”
“My response was not it’s like choking on a three foot putt on the golf course,” Evers said. “What I saw was pretty violent.”
— Mary Spicuzza and Molly Beck
1:43 p.m.: Biden supporters gather in Kenosha
Supporters for former-Vice President Joe Biden trickled into the Civic Center Park hoping to get a glimpse of him.
Kenosha resident Michelle Stauder said she is glad he is visiting the city to see the damage.
“I just want to let him know that he is welcome and spread his message of working together peacefully,” Stauder said. “I had no interest in coming down when Trump was here.”
When President Donald Trump visited Kenosha on Tuesday, Trump supporters and counter protesters argued for hours in the park.
Stauder said Kenosha needs to come together to find a solution to move past this terrible moment in their history.
“We need to start working together and we need to have police on board,” Stauder said adding she would be open to allowing other professionals like social workers respond to situations where the police aren’t necessary. “We don’t need to defund the police.”
Cheryl Strockis, a resident of Alabama, was visiting family in Browns Lake in Racine County and decided to come to Kenosha for Biden’s visit.
“I really see Biden being in the middle,” Strockis said. “He listens to the Republican side; he listens to Democrats … and his point of view is always from a caring and compassionate place.”
Strockis said she believes Trump and his supporters push a lot of negativity onto other citizens.
“We didn’t have this (division) for the eight years of (Barack) Obama, it’s totally triggered by Trump and his supporters,” Strockis said. “We never had this under any other administration but Trump and his administration.”
Paddock Lake resident Chris Parker was in Kenosha to paint some of the plywood that covers windows in the Uptown neighborhood of Kenosha and came to the park to see what the crowd was like.
Parker considers himself a “constitutionalist.”
“I never really aligned myself with Trump and his message, but as of late, what Democrats have shown, I can’t stand with that,” Parker said adding he plans to vote for Trump in November.
Parker said he is disappointed in the choices voters have in the 2020 presidential election.
“Of all the people in the United States of America, we have Joe Biden, a career politician who now is going to make change even though he hasn’t in 40 years; or Trump, who is a big business man with lots of failed businesses,” Parker said. “It is kind of the lesser of two evils … both parties are two wings of the same bird.”
Parker views the visits from the two candidates in completely different lights.
“I think Trump came to do the right thing and give his condolences and thank law enforcement and the National Guard from coming in,” Parker said. “I think Biden’s here for a photo-op because, what does he have to offer? He doesn’t have money to give.”
Parker said he believes reform is necessary in more training for police and decreasing the “militarization” of police departments.
However, on the Jacob Blake shooting itself, Parker places the blame on Blake.
“I feel the police exercised a lot of their options and did something they didn’t want to do,” Parker said. “I don’t think they wanted to shoot that man. I believe they exhausted many options to try to not do that … this situation was a product of his choices.”
Parker said there is a “huge disconnect between police and the community,” which needs to be resolved for Kenosha to move forward.
“Police need to be back on their feet within the community and connecting with the community,” Parker said.
— Ricardo Torres
1:11 p.m.: Bidens finish meeting with Blake family, head to Kenosha
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden exits a building after meeting with relatives of Jacob Blake at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport on Thursday. (Photo: Associated Press)
According to pool reports, Jill and Joe Biden wrapped their private meeting with the Jacob Blake family and their attorneys at about 12:45 p.m. at General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee, a meeting that lasted an hour.
The meeting was closed to the media, and the Bidens are now en route to Kenosha for a community event. The Biden Campaign has declined to provide the exact location of that event.
12:34 p.m.: Republicans call Biden’s visit a ‘desperation trip’
Republicans portrayed Joe Biden’s Thursday trip to Wisconsin as a “desperation trip,” claiming that he is scrambling to stop losing voters here.
“It’s really clear that this is just a desperation trip for Joe Biden,” said Andrew Hitt, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. “He’s finally been smoked out of the basement as a result of this, and this trip is nothing but a campaign, political ploy to try to stop the bleeding that is going on in Wisconsin for Joe Biden and his support.”
During the Thursday conference call with reporters, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also defended President Donald Trump’s decision not to meet with the family of Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer last month.
“I think it is premature until we know all the facts through the independent investigation to rush the judgment,” Walker said.
Walker, a Republican, criticized Democratic presidential Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, for saying they believe the officer who shot Blake should be charged.
“I think it’s incumbent on leaders when there is a legitimate process like this, an independent review, to not rush to judgment and to wait until those results come out before presenting anything one way or the other.”
Asked if he condemned Kyle Rittenhouse, who faces charges in the shooting deaths of two protesters and the injuring of another, Walker said he didn’t want any violence.
“We don’t need people coming in to communities, whether they’re rioters, whether they’re part of so-called militias or anything else, we need law enforcement assistance to help people at the local level,” Walker said. “We need assistance from state and federal agencies.”
Walker and other Republicans criticized Biden for not coming to Wisconsin on Thursday, saying it has been 674 days since he last visited the state. They also accused Gov. Tony Evers and other Democratic officials who asked Trump not to come to Kenosha earlier this week of hypocrisy for not urging Biden to stay away.
Republicans also questioned what has changed since Biden decided not to travel to Milwaukee for the Democratic National Convention last month, instead giving his acceptance speech from Delaware, but is coming now.
“It was just a complete cop out. They’ve ignored and blown off Wisconsin,” Walker said.
— Mary Spicuzza
12:20 p.m.: Gathering begins in Kenosha, awaiting Biden’s arrival
Nick Dennis speaks to Kenneth Turner of Kenosha, a Donald Trump supporter, at Civic Center Park in Kenosha ahead of Joe Biden’s visit to Kenosha on Sept. 3, 2020. (Photo: Alison Dirr)
Mid-day Thursday, a number of small groups gathered in Civic Center Park, some with shirts reading “Black Lives Matter,” others with signs supporting Biden and two men in support of Trump.
As cameras rolled, Nick Dennis of Kenosha, who wore a Black Lives Matter shirt and mask, spoke with Kenneth Turner of Kenosha, who carried a Trump-Pence sign. They were soon joined by Stevante Clark, the brother of Stephon Clark, a Black man who was fatally shot by Sacramento police in 2018.
Clark told the Journal Sentinel he saw people yelling at each other instead of having a meaningful dialogue.
“It’s all divisive, nobody’s having an actual conversation,” Clark said, adding he wanted to see if Turner had any actions he wanted to see taken.
Clark advocated six steps, including getting recommendations from community members, including Turner, on how to “prevent such atrocities from ever happening again.”
“I think we have a lot of healing to do as a nation and we have to speak to the other side and … before we bridge the gap between law enforcement and at-risk communities, we need to bridge the gap between community and community,” he said.
Clark said he was in Kenosha for the Blake family and to stand with the Kenosha community.
A little while after the conversation between the three, a group verbally confronted Turner and the other Trump supporter.
Turner told the Journal Sentinel he was exercising his First Amendment right and supporting his candidate. He said he didn’t expect a confrontation, and that he saw “a lot of frustration” and that it’s been a rough week.
Of his conversation with Dennis and Clark, he said he sympathized.
Supporters of presidential candidate Joe Biden began arriving in Kenosha ahead of his visit planned on Thursday. (Photo: Ricardo Torres / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
— Alison Dirr
12:13 p.m.: Biden arrives at General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, with advance staffer Brian McPartlin, left, arrives at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport on Thursday. Biden was traveling to Kenosha, where he was to hold a community meeting and was expected to meet with the family of police shooting victim Jacob Blake. (Photo: Getty Images)
Joe and Jill Biden arrived at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport and stepped off the plane at 11:40 a.m. local time. According to a pool report, he did not answer questions posed by the media and entered an airport building where he is meeting privately with members of Jacob Blake’s family.
Among those on hand were Blake’s father Jacob Blake Sr., sister Letetra Widman, brother Myron Jackson, sister Zietha Blake and mother Julia Jackson, who attended by phone. Also attending the meeting were members of Blake’s legal team Ben Crump, Patrick Salvi Sr. and B’Ivory LaMarr, on Jacob Blake’s legal team.
12:02 p.m.: Wisconsin attorney general urges message of healing during Biden’s visit
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul urged national politicians like Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden to promote healing when visiting Kenosha.
“I hope we will see leaders calling for unity,” Kaul, a Democrat, told the Journal Sentinel Thursday. Kaul is in charge of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is investigating the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer.
Biden’s visit comes two days after President Donald Trump toured burned out buildings in Kenosha and spoke with law enforcement officials there. Kaul had been among a group of state and local politicians who had asked the Republican president not to come to Kenosha, fearing his visit could inflame tensions in the city.
Said Kaul: “My view is if there are national leaders coming to Wisconsin, and to Kenosha in particular, to try to help heal the community, to bring people together, to support people’s right to protest peacefully and to call for the kind of change that they want to see, and who are going to condemn certainly the violence but also the destruction that happened a few nights in Kenosha following Mr. Blake’s being shot, I think that’s a positive thing and I think it can help the community heal.”
— Ashley Luthern
11:25 a.m.: Biden expected to arrive shortly before 2 p.m.
The details of Joe Biden’s Thursday visit to Wisconsin — his first trip to the state during his campaign — have not been publicly released. His Kenosha event is expected to begin at 1:45 or 2 p.m. His campaign has said he will meet with the family of Jacob Blake, but the meeting will be private. A second stop is also planned.
A meeting with the Kenosha community, set to begin between 1:45 and 2 p.m., will be livestreamed at Joebiden.com.
Wednesday.: Biden says officer who shot Jacob Blake should be charged
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Wednesday the Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back should be criminally charged “at a minimum.”
Biden joins his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, a former attorney general, in calling for officer Rusten Sheskey to be charged in the shooting, which left Blake paralyzed.
Sheskey shot Jacob Blake, a Black Kenosha man, seven times in the back after Blake walked away from officers and was attempting to enter a small SUV with his three children in the back seat.
“I think we should let the judicial system work its way,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, following a speech about his plan to reopen schools during the coronavirus pandemic. “I do think at a minimum they need to be charged.”
Read full story.
— Molly Beck
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