Biden, in Kenosha, says U.S. confronting 'original sin'

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Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden meets with members of the community at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wis., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WILMINGTON, Del. – Joe Biden told residents of Kenosha, Wisconsin, that recent turmoil following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, could help Americans confront centuries of systemic racism, drawing a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump amid a reckoning that has galvanized the nation.

“We’re finally now getting to the point where we’re going to be addressing the original sin of this country, 400 years old … slavery and all the vestiges of it,” Biden said at Grace Lutheran Church, where he met with community leaders after a private session with Blake and his family.

The visit marked the former vice president's first trip to the battleground state of Wisconsin as the Democratic presidential nominee and was a vivid illustration of the contrast he offers to Trump.

While Biden spent more than an hour with the Blake family, Trump didn't mention Blake during his own trip to Kenosha on Tuesday. Where Biden traced problems in the criminal justice system back to slavery, Trump refused to acknowledge systemic racism and offered his unvarnished support to law enforcement, blaming the recent violence on “domestic terror.”

“I can’t say if tomorrow God made me president, I can’t guarantee you everything gets solved in four years,” Biden said. But “it would be a whole lot better, we’d get a whole lot further down the road” if Trump isn’t re-elected.

“There’s certain things worth losing over,” he concluded, “and this is something worth losing over if you have to — but we’re not going to lose.”

Blake remains hospitalized after being shot in the back seven times by a white Kenosha police officer while authorities were trying to arrest him on Aug. 23. The shooting is the latest police confrontation with a Black man to spark protests. It follows demonstrations that swelled nationwide after George Floyd was killed by a white Minneapolis officer in May.

Outside Grace Lutheran, Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, compared Trump’s and Biden’s respective visits as he marched and chanted with a crowd. “Trump didn’t ask about my nephew. Trump didn’t mention my nephew’s name while he was here,” Justin Blake said.