UPDATE 1-In Wisconsin, Biden meets with family of shooting victim Jacob Blake

MILWAUKEE, Sept 3- Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Thursday met with the family of Jacob Blake, the Black man whose shooting by police in Wisconsin in August sparked a new surge of civil unrest around the United States. Biden and his wife Jill met with four members of Blake’s family, including his father, Jacob Blake, Sr., the Biden campaign said.

By Jarrett Renshaw

MILWAUKEE, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Democratic presidentialnominee Joe Biden on Thursday met with the family of JacobBlake, the Black man whose shooting by police in Wisconsin inAugust sparked a new surge of civil unrest around the UnitedStates.

The private meeting, which took place in a building at theMilwaukee airport, came at the start of a trip by Biden to thestate. Biden and his wife Jill met with four members of Blake’sfamily, including his father, Jacob Blake, Sr., the Bidencampaign said.

Biden later will convene a community meeting in Kenosha,Wisconsin, where a white police officer shot Blake in the backon Aug. 23, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down andsparking several days of protests against police brutality inthe city and across the country.

A 17-year-old supporter of Biden’s Republican rival,President Donald Trump, has been charged with killing two peopleand wounding another with a semi-automatic rifle during a clashwith Kenosha protesters.

Trump visited the city on Tuesday, but did not meet withBlake’s family. Instead he visited a furniture store that wasdestroyed in the upheaval and suggested that Democrats likeBiden condoned the violence that has at times disrupted largelypeaceful demonstrations, even as Biden has condemned it.

Trump has increasingly made the national protests overracial inequality and police brutality a central theme of hiscampaign to be re-elected on Nov. 3, casting himself as holdingthe line against urban chaos.

Biden, in turn, has accused Trump of stoking conflict tofrighten voters.

“Donald Trump looks at this violence and sees a politicallifeline,” Biden said in a speech in Pittsburgh on Monday.

The visit marks a distinct change in campaign tactics forBiden, who has mostly avoided traveling far from his Delawarehome, arguing the coronavirus pandemic required caution.

The protests that have flared nationwide since Minneapolispolice killed George Floyd in May have placed the Democrat in adifficult political position at times. Along with his runningmate, Kamala Harris, Biden has praised the energy of the BlackLives Matter movement, but has not embraced its goals ofde-funding or even eliminating local police departments.

That has not stopped the Trump campaign from suggestingBiden is in lockstep with the movement.

“These are left-wing radicals aligned with his party’sextreme anti-police wing, and they are in control of theDemocratic Party, and therefore in control of Joe Biden,” Trumpspokesman Tim Murtaugh said on Wednesday.

Wisconsin is a critical battleground in the fight for theWhite House. Trump edged out Democrat Hillary Clinton there fouryears ago, and while opinion polls show Biden with a lead in thestate, Trump’s campaign has made retaining it a top priority.

Trump will visit another swing state crucial to hisre-election when he makes a campaign stop in Latrobe,Pennsylvania, on Thursday.

Trump won Pennsylvania by just 45,000 votes in 2016. Recentpolls show him trailing Biden in that state as well, althoughthere are indications the race there is tightening.(Reporting by Jarret Renshaw in Milwaukee and James Oliphant inWashington;Additional reporting by Alexandra Alper and Michael Martina;Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Aurora Ellis and Sonya Hepinstall)

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