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Joe Biden says Trump 'legimitises hate' as he meets Jacob Blake's family in Kenosha

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 03/09/2020 Nick Allen, Josie Ensor
(Video by Reuters)

Joe Biden accused Donald Trump of legitimising the "dark side of human nature" as he met with the family of Jacob Blake, the black man shot seven times in the back by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Speaking to a small socially distanced group at the Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, he said: "I made a mistake. I thought you could defeat hate. It only hides. When someone in authority puts oxygen under those rocks, it legitimises people to come out from under those rocks.

"Racism has been institutionalised in the United States, it still exists, it's existed for 400 years. So we end up in a circumstance like here in Kenosha."

Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha Wisconsin - AFP © AFP Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha Wisconsin - AFP

The Democrat nominee, wearing a mask, added: "As much as they say that Black Lives Matter has lost some standing since the president’s gone on this rant about law and order, you still have more than 50 percent of people supporting it. "People are beginning to figure out who we are as a country. This is not who we are."

Mr Biden, and his wife Jill, met privately with Mr Blake's father, brother, and two sisters in an airport building two days after Donald Trump visited the area and declined to speak to them.

He also spoke to Jacob Blake, who phoned into the family meeting from his hospital bed. Ben Crump, the family lawyer, said: “Jacob shared about the pain he is enduring, and the vice president commiserated."

a group of people sitting at a desk: Biden speaks at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha Wisconsin - AFP © Provided by The Telegraph Biden speaks at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha Wisconsin - AFP

In Kenosha, Mr Blake, 29, was left paralysed after being shot on Aug 23, and the incident led to days of riots and violence. Mr Biden said his visit would be a "positive influence".

He added: "This is about making sure that we move forward. It is time to heal. What an enormous opportunity to bring the country together."

He arrived shortly after shattering the US record for election fundraising, collecting $364.5 million in August.

The candidate said he was "humbled" by donations from families suffering in the pandemic.

a group of people standing around a fire hydrant: People reflect by a makeshift memorial on Jefferson Avenue following the death of a Black man, Daniel Prude - Reuters © Provided by The Telegraph People reflect by a makeshift memorial on Jefferson Avenue following the death of a Black man, Daniel Prude - Reuters

Mr Biden was also meeting with local police, business figures, and city leaders in Kenosha, as Mr Trump did.

For Mr Biden it was a key test of his pledge to "unify the country" following a summer of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.

It was also his first campaign visit to the key state of Wisconsin, which Mr Trump won unexpectedly in 2016. David Bowen, a Democrat Wisconsin state representative, said: "Mr Trump came here to fan the flames and it's important for Joe Biden to come with a fire extinguisher, to come with a hug."

Mr Trump mocked his opponent's rare foray out of his home state of Delaware, calling him "Joe Hiden," and Republicans accused Mr Biden of politicising events in Kenosha.

Bill Stepien, Mr Trump’s campaign manager, said: "This is not the time to be injecting politics into a really serious situation that the president helped solve." Andrew Hitt, the Wisconsin Republican party chairman, added: "It shouldn’t take rioters burning down the city of Kenosha to get Joe Biden to visit our state."

a person standing in front of a crowd: Justin Blake, uncle of Jacob Blake, protests outside the Grace Lutheran Church where Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden spoke earlier - AP © Provided by The Telegraph Justin Blake, uncle of Jacob Blake, protests outside the Grace Lutheran Church where Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden spoke earlier - AP

Mr Trump launched a TV advert in Wisconsin showing the recent violence. It said: "Lawless criminals terrorise Kenosha. Joe Biden takes a knee. Biden and the radical left’s weak response has led to chaos and violence.

"President Trump is making it stop. Jobs not mobs."

Mr Biden also launched an advert in Wisconsin rejecting Republican accusations that he was soft on rioters. In it he said: "Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

A curfew in Kenosha was lifted but shops remained boarded up, many of them daubed with murals saying "Kenosha strong" and "Where is the love?"

Gallery: Jacob Blake protests (Picture Services)

It came as new protests erupted in Rochester, New York over the death of an unarmed black man who suffocated when police put a bag over his head.

His family said he had been "lynched". Daniel Prude, 41, who was mentally ill, unarmed and running naked through the street, died as officers used a "spit hood" and pressed down on his scalp for two minutes as he shouted "You’re trying to kill me!"

The incident happened on March 23 but footage was only released this week.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the police headquarters in Rochester, blocking roads, chanting “black lives matter”, and demanding the officers involved be charged with murder.

President Donald Trump leaves the stage after a speech on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Wilmington, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) © ASSOCIATED PRESS President Donald Trump leaves the stage after a speech on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Wilmington, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Police released pepper spray and made arrests. Further protests were planned in New York City's Times Square.

On Thursday, the mayor of Rochester suspended seven officers involved in the confrontation.

A coroner concluded the death was a homicide caused by asphyxia. Joe Prude, the dead man's brother who called emergency services, said: "I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched.

"How did you see him and not directly say, 'The man is defenceless, buck naked on the ground. He's cuffed up already'. Come on."

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