Trump criticises Biden on policing ahead of trip to Kenosha

Democrat calls for healing as he prepares to travel to Wisconsin city hit by unrest

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Thursday to meet members of the community impacted by the recent unrest in the city.

The trip takes place two days after US president Donald Trump visited the midwestern city to pay tribute to police officers and law enforcement officials there. During his visit Mr Trump did not address the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man who was left paralysed after he was shot several times by a white police officer in Kenosha last month.

The shooting sparked widespread protests, which led to the killing of two men. A 17-year-old white male remains in custody charged with the two murders.

Mr Biden’s campaign said he would hold a community meeting in Kenosha “to bring together Americans to heal and address the challenges we face”.


"We've got to heal," the former vice-president told reporters in Delaware. "We've got to put things together, bring people together. And so, my purpose in going will be to do just that – to be a positive influence on what's going on."

Mr Biden’s visit takes place as the issue of policing and law enforcement takes centre stage in the US, two months ahead of the presidential election in which Mr Trump is seeking re-election.

Policing credentials

Mr Trump, who travelled to North Carolina on Wednesday to officially designate the city of Wilmington a second World War heritage city, lambasted his rival's credentials on policing.

“Joe Biden is not on the side of Law Enforcement, and that was spectacularly evident on my very successful trip yesterday to Kenosha,” he wrote on Twitter.

Addressing supporters in Wilmington, he said: “In America we don’t tear down the past, we celebrate our heroes . . . we cherish our history and we build the future.”

He added that Americans did not fight fascism or oppression overseas “only to see our freedoms . . . be trampled by violent mobs at home”.

Noting that 2 million Americans had trained for combat in North Carolina during the second World War, he declared: “We must teach our children that America is the land of heroes, that we’re not ashamed of America.”

The president also reiterated his criticism of the mayor of Portland for not requesting the National Guard to support law enforcement in the city following months of nightly protests there. “All they have to do is ask . . . we’ll be there in an hour,” he said, adding that the protesters “only know one thing, and that’s strength – that’s what we have”.

Public appearances

Mr Biden’s trip to Kenosha on Thursday is the latest indication that the former vice-president is stepping up his public appearances, having spent much of the last few months in his home in Delaware due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While Wisconsin has been the site of the latest wave of racial protests in the US since the death in police custody of George Floyd in May, it is also a crucial swing state which Mr Trump won by a narrow margin in 2016.

Mr Biden also plans to visit other midwestern states in the coming weeks, as some polls show that his lead over Mr Trump is tightening.

A Monmouth University poll conducted after last week's Republican National Convention found that Mr Biden's lead over Mr Trump in Pennsylvania had shrunk from 13 points to four. However, new fundraising figures show that Mr Biden and affiliated Democrat entities raised a record $364 million (€307 million) in August.

Both presidential candidates have launched new ad campaigns in recent days. The Biden team has purchased $45 million worth of television and digital ads this week – by far its largest ad expenditure to date. They have released a 60-second ad in which Mr Biden addresses the recent scenes of violence and unrest in American cities.

The Trump campaign is running a series of ads in key swing states, criticising Mr Biden’s policy towards policing and justice issues.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

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