WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Two trips to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 48 hours by both candidates underlined the importance of the moment amid a summer of protests in the United States.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump arrived in the Wisconsin border city despite requests from the Democratic mayor that he not visit — saying that his presence would not help reduce tension on the street.
“We have to condemn the dangerous anti-police rhetoric,” said Trump. “It’s getting more and more. It’s very unfair.”
Once there, Trump made a point of boosting the morale of the local police and promised aid for small businesses damaged in days of violent protests. Kenosha has been mostly quiet since his visit. The violence that followed the wounding of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer, has subsided.
That’s how former Vice President Joe Biden found the city Thursday, as he took his turn reacting to the unrest.
“Protesting is protesting,” said Biden. “But none of it justifies looting, burning or anything else, so regardless of angry you are, if you loot or you burn, you should be held accountable.”
Biden told a community gathering of his conversation with Blake — who is now paralyzed.
“I had an opportunity to spend some time with Jacob on the phone. He’s out of ICU,” said Biden. “We spoke for about 15 minutes. He talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how whether he walked again, he was not going to give up.”
At that gathering, some felt they were on a first-name basis with him.
“Thank you, Joe, for being here,” said Barb Deberg,
He then heard stories of shock and pain, but also renewal over the past two weeks.
“We have never seen anything as devastating as what has gone on in our community,” said Deberg. “They did break our windows, get into our store. They looted and they tried to start a fire.”
And yet, Barb Deberg’s business reopened on Tuesday with the help of neighbors.
“The love and the compassion in this community has been overwhelming, not only to us but the whole community,” said Deberg.
“I think there’s a chance for a real awakening here, and there’s a real alternative here. Win or lose, we down fighting for racial equality,” said Biden.
For his part, Trump had an evening rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania — a state whose 20 electoral votes were vital to his own win over Hillary Clinton four years ago.
During his Thursday night rally, Trump said the nation is rounding the corner on the coronavirus pandemic and that his opponent is a “puppet of the socialist, Marxist, cop-hating extremists.