‘Simply wrong’: Biden condemns ‘immoral’ remarks by Trump

Democrat meets family of black man shot by police in Kenosha and takes part in ‘listening session’ with city’s community leaders

Former vice president Joe Biden met family members of Jacob Blake, the African-American man who was shot and seriously wounded by a white police officer last month, as he made a high-profile trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Thursday.

The shooting – which sparked nights of violence in the city – has refocused attention on issues of racial justice and policing in the United States, two months before the presidential election.

Mr Blake (29), who survived being shot in the back a number of times, joined the 90-minute meeting by phone from his hospital bed, his lawyer said.

In what was dubbed as a “listening session,” Mr Biden later met community leaders, firefighters and business owners in a church close to the downtown area of Kenosha which has witnessed violent protests since the shooting of Mr Blake.


“The words of a president matter,” said the Democratic candidate in the upcoming US presidential election . “No matter how competent or incompetent a president is.”

Referring to US president Donald Trump, he said his Republican opponent "talks in ways that are not only incorrect but immoral – simply wrong."

Dark side

Recalling the protests that took place in Wilmington, Delaware following the assassination of Martin Luther King jnr in 1968, Mr Biden said that ultimately the city recovered. "Don't tell me things can't change."

Referring to Mr Trump’s comments that there were good people “on both sides” during clashes between far-right groups and opponents at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville three years ago, he said: “No president has ever said anything like that. It legitimises a dark side of human nature.”

Among the policies discussed by Mr Biden during the event were a proposal to build rehabilitation centres instead of prisons, the introduction of a federal minimum wage of $15 (€12) an hour, and the prioritisation of mental health services.

But looting and burning “cannot be tolerated,” he said, “regardless of how angry you are.”

Voting twice

Mr Biden was speaking as new details emerged about the death of another African-American man at the hands of police. Daniel Prude (41), who had mental health issues, was hooded and restrained by police in New York state in March. He died a week later. News of Mr Prude's death has only just emerged because the family requested the body camera footage.

Ahead of a rally on Thursday night in western Pennsylvania, the president instructed officials to cut federal money to Democratically-controlled cities that have witnessed social unrest in recent months.

“My administration will do everything in its power to prevent weak mayors and lawless cities from taking Federal dollars while they let anarchists harm people, burn buildings, and ruin lives and businesses,” he tweeted.

Mr Trump’s team also sought to clarify comments made by the president that suggested that people should try voting twice – once by mail and once by person – as a way of testing the mail-in voting system, a suggestion that is illegal.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent