Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden departs after speaking about his plans to combat racial inequality at a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, July 28, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he has spoken with the family of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot in the back by police in Wisconsin over the weekend.
In a video posted Wednesday on social media, Biden said he empathized with the family of Blake, who is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down. Biden also unequivocally condemned the “needless violence” stemming from the demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in response to the shooting and called for healing and unity.
“What I saw on that video makes me sick,” Biden said in a 92-second video, referring to Blake’s shooting. “Once again a Black man, Jacob Blake, has been shot by the police in broad daylight, with the whole world watching.”
“You know, I spoke to Jacob’s mom and dad, sister and other members of the family just a little bit earlier. And I told them, justice must and will be done,” Biden said. “Put yourself in the shoes of every Black father and Black mother in this country and ask: Is this what we want America to be? Is this the country we should be?”
Video footage of the shooting of 29-year-old Blake quickly launched another wave of outrage toward law enforcement in a summer that has been defined by massive protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
Like in other cities, the recent demonstrations in Kenosha turned violent, with news outlets reporting protesters throwing projectiles at police and officers firing tear gas into crowds. Authorities there said two people had been fatally shot Tuesday night, NBC News reported.
“You know, as I said after George Floyd’s murder, protesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary. But burning down communities is not protest, it’s needless violence,” Biden said in the video.
“Violence that endangers lives. Violence that guts businesses and shutters businesses that serve the community. That’s wrong.”
The remarks from Biden, who was vice president to Barack Obama, came days after the Democratic National Convention and during the thick of the Republican National Convention. Conservatives and Republicans heavily criticized the Democrats’ nominating event, accusing them of ignoring the ongoing unrest in cities with Democratic political leadership.
President Donald Trump has called for the federal government to intervene in Kenosha to clamp down on the disorder. Trump has not tweeted or commented publicly about Blake’s shooting itself.
Earlier Wednesday, the president tweeted that members of the National Guard would be sent to the city “to restore LAW and ORDER!”
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh in a statement to CNBC called the video of the shooting “extremely disturbing.”
“But it’s inexplicable that it took Joe Biden this long to condemn the further violence and destruction that has followed,” Murtaugh added. “The entirety of his Democratic National Convention passed without a word about the violence in our cities that Americans have seen for weeks on end.”
Trump is set to deliver a speech at the White House on Thursday to formally accept the nomination during the GOP convention.
In the video Wednesday afternoon, Biden said that Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, offered the “wisest words” he’s heard regarding the unrest.
“She looked at the damage done in her community and she said this quote: ‘This doesn’t reflect my son or my family.'”
“So let’s unite and heal, do justice, end the violence and end systemic racism in this country now,” Biden said.
Biden’s vice presidential pick, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, said Wednesday that she also spoke with Blake’s family.
“What happened there is so tragic and still represents the two systems of justice in America. There are still two systems of justice in America and we, we need to fight again for that ideal,” Harris said during a virtual campaign event.