Sep 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden says he spoke with Jacob Blake by phone for 15 minutes

Former VP Joe Biden arriving in Wisconsin. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Image

Joe Biden spoke with Jacob Blake by phone on Thursday for 15 minutes during a private meeting with Blake's family in Wisconsin.

Driving the news: This was Biden's third time out on the campaign trail this week — the former VP has largely stuck to virtual events until now. He spent most of his time in Wisconsin listening to residents about their concerns and hopes for the way forward as the community reels from Blake's shooting.

Why it matters: Wisconsin is not just a key battleground state in this election, but now is a symbol of the racial injustice that's driving people to the streets and reshaping the contours of the presidential race.

  • Thursday was Biden's first visit to the Badger State since becoming the Democratic nominee. He met with Blake's family for over an hour and then attended a listening session at a Kenosha-based church.
  • President Trump visited Wisconsin on Tuesday, where he met with business leaders and local law enforcement, but didn't mention Blake in his remarks.

What they're saying: Biden relayed that Blake is now out of the ICU, where he was after being shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer.

  • Biden said Blake explained that "whether he walked again or not, he was not going to give up."
  • "He talked about how nothing was going to defeat him," Biden told Kenosha residents at Grace Lutheran Church during Thursday's community listening session.
  • "I can’t understand what it’s like to walk out the door, to send my son out the door or my daughter, and worry that just because they’re Black they might not come back," Biden told attendees at the church. "I can intellectually understand it, but I can’t feel it."
  • Blake's lawyer, Ben Crump, released a statement on the phone call:
    • "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."

The big picture: Trump and Biden have been battling over "law and order" in the wake of ongoing protests against systemic racism and continued examples of police brutality against Black Americans.

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