Sep 3, 2020
Joe Biden Kenosha Visit Transcript September 3
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden visited Kenosha on September 3. Read the transcript of the event with Biden’s remarks here.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
Speaker 1: (00:04)
While we’re waiting for them to come up I’m going to make a quick announcement. Thank you all for being here. I just want to remind everyone that this event has been set up to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Accordingly, please keep your mask on while you are speaking in accordance with the Governor’s mandate. And thank you again for being here. At the end of the program, we will give you guidance to take a socially distanced photo. Thank you.
Joe Biden: (00:29)
If you want one. I’m sorry, father, I thought I was supposed to come up this way or [inaudible 00:00:35] taken the wrong way. I apologize.
Reverend Barker: (00:36)
That’s okay. [inaudible 00:00:41].
Joe Biden: (00:38)
How are you, pal?
Tim Mahone: (00:42)
Joe Biden: (00:45)
Can’t do that anymore. [crosstalk 00:00:45] You got some guns. All right.
Tim Mahone: (00:55)
Good afternoon, everyone.
Tim Mahone: (00:57)
Good afternoon. I can’t hear you. Good afternoon, everyone.
Tim Mahone: (00:59)
There you go. Let’s get some energy and love in the room, right?
Tim Mahone: (01:03)
Well, my name is Tim Mahone, I’m the chair of The Mary Lou & Arthur F. Mahone Fund and I appreciate everyone being here. I want to thank Reverend Barker for your hospitality and convening what we know is a very important discussion in our community. Vice president, Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden is in the house, I believe somewhere.
Joe Biden: (01:28)
Yeah she’s doing something with teachers.
Tim Mahone: (01:31)
As she always does. I’d like to welcome both of you here for what you know is a town of love, unity and compassion. As you know, you’ve spent most of your career unifying people, bringing people together. And much like in your hometown, Scranton, you’ve often talked about family values, working class families. Kenosha is that kind of town, where we come together as people. And what unites us in our inner soul is love, compassion. And in this time of healing and hurt and pain, we need that love and compassion. And we know your leadership is all about unity, not division. It’s about healing. So we thank you for being here today because we know your leadership is important in Kenosha and in our country.
Tim Mahone: (02:38)
But we also know, and let’s be clear, Black Americans face systemic racism in a variety of areas. Let’s be real about that. Much like many marginalized communities, far too long. And we know with your vision and your leadership and your sense of urgency to dismantle systemic racism in healthcare, workforce development, education, affordable housing, we know your vision will heal this country. We know your vision will bring neighborhoods back together and we thank you for that. Now it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you our host, Reverend Barker, please come and give us opening prayer.
Reverend Barker: (03:35)
Well, welcome everybody. It is a real privilege to look out on my neighbors here in Kenosha. And I can see so many people who had, at the core of their life, seeking welfare and praying for the welfare of our city. So it is a real privilege to have all of you here today. It is a real privilege to have Vice President Joe Biden here today to listen and to seek healing and justice for us in Kenosha. And so thank you all for taking time this afternoon to come to Grace Lutheran. Welcome. Well, please rise, as you’re able, as I offer a prayer. Let us pray.
Reverend Barker: (04:19)
Oh, healing God. We continue to lift up Jacob Blake. Lord, continue to bring healing to his grievous wounds. Lord, miraculously enable him to walk again. Lord, we lift up his family. Bring them comfort during this tumultuous, challenging time. Oh God of justice, we ask for justice for Jacob Blake. We ask for justice for our community here in Kenosha. Oh God who anoints leaders to guide us, we ask that you anoint the leader of our country in November, who will at their core seek justice, love mercy, humbly walk with you and love their neighbor as themselves. And God, I have great confidence that you will make that happen for us in November. I pray all of these things in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. You may be seated.
Tim Mahone: (05:35)
Thank you, Reverend Barker for those inspiring words. And also I want to thank you for the great work you do in the neighborhood. As you know, not far from here, we have devastation and destruction and we know your churches have a leadership role in that rebuild and recovery. So thank you for that and many blessings. So here we are, ladies and gentlemen, we’re here to have a community conversation. Is that right? There’s a few ground rules in the interest of safety and health and wellness that we protect each other, so social distancing rules are important and will be applied. We have four selected speakers that we’re going to start with. I’ll call them up. We’ll ask them to speak and speak to the mic that’s closest to you. And then after they’re finished, we’ll call up folks as you choose to speak. However, we ask that you practice the social distancing and the microphones that are here. Take your time. I’ll give you about five minutes per person. I’ve been told I have the right to kind of put the mask over your mouth and shut it down a little bit. Shut it down, but take your time. Because as you know, Vice President, Joe Biden’s here to listen and learn and help us heal. Fair enough?
Tim Mahone: (06:44)
First of all, this is Tim Tompkins, community resident, former Marine. Tim.
Tim Tompkins: (06:50)
Good afternoon. And thank you very much for coming today. What I’d like to talk about, what’s occurring in Wisconsin, is really something that’s an American issue and that’s about race and equality. And when we talk about race and equality in America, we need to move beyond the conversation of programs. We need to start putting money behind the programs and putting things into action. Several years ago, Ben Gordon, who was with the NAACP, said, “We know what the problems are. We need to start putting money behind the solutions.” We know what the problems are in the African American community. We know what the problems are in the Hispanic community. But when you’re looking at Wisconsin, which is considered the worst place in the United States for people of color, 34% of African Americans live in poverty, 24% of Hispanics, 28% of Native American Indians and 18% of people who are of Asian descent.
Tim Tompkins: (07:57)
So when you talk about that race inequality, it also means about inclusion and taking those steps that we need to address those issues. We need to address the issues of employment. We have all of these jobs that are around here, but we don’t have median… The median income and the difference between white families and African Americans in the State of Wisconsin is 50%. We’re earning 50% of what those family incomes are. And so if we’re not paying people living wages, the automotive industry that was here, [inaudible 00:08:32] American Brass, we’re a community that built things. And so we’ve got a lot of intelligent people, we have a lot of skills that are still here. It’s just tapping into those resources and creating those opportunities and employment.
Tim Tompkins: (08:45)
When I was the HR director in a municipality, one of the things that we did is we banned the box. We don’t need to look for new employees to look for a workforce, we’re pushing them out of the prison system each and every day. When those individuals come back to our communities, what we need to do is start providing second chances for them. We also need to address the gaps within our education system. Not that we don’t have a public education system, but we have a public education system that is not equitable. We need to make sure that each program in every school is the same. We need to make sure that Black sports programs and white sport programs are funded the same. We need to make sure that science programs and art programs are funded the same. Not that they just exist, but that they have the same quality and that they’re of the same quilt because you cannot build programs that do not have the same resources and economic ability to push those forward to be successful.
Tim Tompkins: (09:51)
The biggest thing that I see going on right now, and it just breaks my heart, when we talk about race and equality, we have to look at housing. Right now, we look at what’s going on during this COVID. We have so many people right now because of not having the economics and not being in work at this time, they’re losing their housing. If you looked over at Texas over the last couple of days, it’s heartbreaking to see all these people in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of just having a hurricane come through this area, and now they’re being placed on the streets with their belongings. And so we’ve got to move beyond that. The other thing that’s still out there is that we need to create jobs. We need to create living wages and opportunities for people so that they can be a part of that American dream.
Tim Tompkins: (10:35)
I was going to talk about the criminal justice system, but we have such a wonderful person here who is going to be able to follow up on that. And we have to realize that we’ve got to stop pushing people into jail. We have to start getting solutions such as rehabilitation. When the crack epidemic hit America and it was in the Black community, America’s solution was jail, jail jail. Now that we have opioids in the white community, the solution is to provide police, firefighters with NARCAN and save the lives and send them back home to their families and make sure that they have the rehabilitation services. We really need to take a look at our criminal justice system because we don’t have the mental health services and we don’t have the drug addiction and other services needed to prevent people from getting caught up in a cycle that takes away from that American dream and takes away from that opportunity for equity. Thank you.
Joe Biden: (11:33)
Tim Mahone: (11:33)
Thank you, Tim. Jeff [Weidner 00:11:35], could you please come forward. 30 years of great service as a firefighter. Wonderful young man. Thank you, Jeff.
Jeff Weidner: (11:43)
Thanks for coming. Thanks for listening. Our members are tired after this past week. Some them are beat up pretty good. But their spirits are high. And the reason that their spirits are high is because of the appreciation and love that our community has shown us after the fires. Everything that’s been dropped off at the firehouses, to people stopping us on the street and telling us thanks. And it made me think about appreciation. I think a lot of people at a lot of different levels need to start showing appreciation for one another and letting people know that everybody matters. I know I feel good when I feel appreciated. I think it’s a basic human thing that everybody else does too. One of the interesting things in the fire department is that we have an opportunity to see so many social and economic problems in people’s homes before there is a program, before there is access to healthcare, before there is an actual problem. I’ve seen it for 30 years. I’d like to tell you that it’s getting better every day, but it’s not.
Jeff Weidner: (13:05)
One of the things that we see, particularly in the areas of people of color is their ability to access healthcare at a time when it has a chance to be preventative, to be healing. So many of the things that we see are a result of chronic ability not to get at healthcare. Those small things turn into chronic things. Those chronic things turn into emergencies. That’s when we get called. And as a result of that, our systems are being taxed. And in many cases, and we’ve even asked people, “Why did you not seek help from your doctor?” “I don’t have a doctor.” “Why did you not take this heart medication?” “I can’t afford it.” Okay, well now we’re at a point now where you’re taking a trip to the emergency room. At times we are the only healthcare that some folks have access to. We never fail to show up. We show up damn fast and sometimes even that’s not enough.
Jeff Weidner: (14:21)
So those are some of the things that we see with regard to a problem in the community that needs attention. If there were clinics or there were availability for low level healthcare access, we wouldn’t see quite so much of what we have to deal with from an emergent standpoint. And again, pride, dedication, and courage. That’s what we all signed up for. Our thumbs are all up and we’re forging forward and we’d like a whole bunch of other people to be able to feel the same kind of appreciation we do. So thanks for being here. Appreciate it.
Joe Biden: (15:06)
Will I get a chance to respond?
Tim Mahone: (15:07)
Absolutely. Would you like to say something now?
Joe Biden: (15:12)
No I’ll wait. [crosstalk 00:00:15:13].
Tim Mahone: (15:14)
Okay. Jeff, thank you for that. And thank you for continuing to keep Kenosha safe. And we appreciate that.
Tim Mahone: (15:20)
103 years of service. Barb [DeBurgh, 00:15:22] would you come forward, please?
Barb DeBurgh: (15:28)
Can I touch this? Thank you Joe, for being here. It’s a great honor for me to be invited here. My name is Barb DeBurgh and my sister and I have a framing and art gallery two blocks down the road. Our great grandfather started our business and our business has succeeded through recessions, depressions and all the difficulties that happen. But we have never, ever seen anything as devastating as what has gone on in our community. We’re very fortunate because they didn’t start our building on fire, like so many of them in the uptown area have been burned to the ground. They did break our windows, get into our store, they looted and they tried to start a fire, but a good Samaritan came by and took this rack of our beautiful scarves out into the sidewalk and put it out. Otherwise, our store would have been up in flames.
Barb DeBurgh: (16:38)
And I look at the buildings in our community that are gone. And I don’t think I’ve really grieved as much as I feel I should because I just… Being a business owner, I have to keep going and I have to keep working. The day after this happened at our store, it was… Sunday, they went downtown and did their devastation. And then on Monday night, they came in our area. So Tuesday morning we had a group of fellows come and board up our building and we were open for business and we’ve been continuing to be open for business, even though it’s boarded up. And the love and compassion in this community has been overwhelming, not only to us, but the whole community. People are coming out, coming together as is in showing respect and love towards each other. And it makes me so very proud to be in this community. That’s what do when we have difficulties, we support and help and love. So thank you so much for allowing me to come here and give you a business perspective. We’re lucky. We’re still standing. Thank you.
Tim Mahone: (18:07)
Thank you, Barb. And you know the community loves your story very much and anything we can do to continue to help rebuild you, we will. Thank you very much. Sir, you’re about to hear from one of the sharpest, youngest legal minds in Kenosha. Angela Cunningham, please come up.
Joe Biden: (18:20)
Your reputation precedes you.
Tim Mahone: (18:25)
Angela Cunningham: (18:26)
Why thank you, Tim. Good afternoon, Mr. Vice President and thank you for joining us here today. You know the reason Kenosha is in the spotlight right now is because the shooting of Jacob Blake. I will never forget that Sunday afternoon. I was watching a live video of someone who was on the scene and trying to figure out what was going on. And I was reading the comments and I saw people commenting about the fact that Jacob Blake had been shot by officers. Then I saw the video of the actual incident. I don’t even think I have the words to describe how I felt when I saw that video. I do remember texting my group of friends and saying, “This is really bad. This is a really bad. There’s going to be protests. There’s going to be rioting.” I knew that right away after watching that video. My mom called me, I have a 20 year old black man for a son, my mom called me shortly after the news got out about what happened because she knows we live in Kenosha and her first thought was, “Is Sean, okay? Is he all right?” I knew he was okay because I knew he was at work.
Angela Cunningham: (19:49)
Mr. President… Mr. Vice president, I’m speaking into the Mr. President part. Mr. Vice president, as an attorney, I know legally why a lot of officers who kill Black men and women are not held legally responsible, criminally legally responsible for their actions. Because the law protects them. I recognize that and I know that. I don’t agree with it, but I recognize that and I know that. And I hope that, if and when you are elected president, that that is something that your administration chooses to try to address, because I feel that the law protects a lot of police officers. And I know a lot of those laws are at the state level, but if at the federal level something can be done to incentivize states to not give so much legal protection to police officers who kill Black men and women. I also want to talk, as an attorney I have my own law firm here, ADC Law Office, part of my practice is doing criminal defense work. I’m also a former prosecutor out of Milwaukee. So I have been on both sides of the-
Angela Cunningham: (21:03)
… a former prosecutor out of Milwaukee. So I have been on both sides of the aisle. And what I’ve seen in the criminal courts is unfair treatment between white defendants versus black and brown defendants. There is over policing in our communities. So you have black and brown people who are picked up for, a lot of times, what could be minor things. Then they got a criminal record. Then that criminal record means that they have a stamp on their back that makes it difficult for them to get jobs and more likely to stay involved in the criminal justice system. So then you get a resume that gets built.
Angela Cunningham: (21:44)
I would love to see legislation put in place to try to address some of the over policing in communities. I would also like to see some transparency in policing and prosecution and sentencing. Because I sit in courts … Well, I used to before COVID, but sitting in courts all day and I listen to cases and can see what’s going on, I’m able to see the differential treatment in charging and offers that are given by the prosecution and in sentencing that’s given by judges. Anybody who’s not in court every day won’t see that and that data is not readily available.
Angela Cunningham: (22:26)
So I would love to see a nationwide effort put in place that requires police departments, district attorney’s offices, and also courts to collect the data about arrests, about charges, about sentencing, about offers that are given so that the light can be shown for people who don’t sit in court all day to see that we’re not just talking, that there really is a discrepancy. And I think that’s the first step that needs to be taken in order to make a difference. And then once we know what the actual numbers are, start putting some legislation in place to try to address some of those discrepancies.
Angela Cunningham: (23:03)
Thank you for your listening today.
Tim Mahone: (23:06)
Thank you to our four speakers. Mr. Vice president, would you like to take a few moments to respond and chat with the community?
Joe Biden: (23:18)
First of all, thank you for giving me the opportunity. And I hope, I don’t know how much time you have after I say a few words, maybe I can hear from more of you as well. But let me respond to a little bit of what I’ve heard so far. First of all, I can make a generic point. The words of a president matter. No matter if they’re good, bad, or indifferent, they matter. No matter how competent or incompetent a president is, they can send the nation to war, they can bring peace, they can make markets rise or fall, and they can do things that I’ve observed can make a difference just by what they say.
Joe Biden: (24:06)
I got out of law school and I moved back to Delaware. I had a partial scholarship to go away. We didn’t have a law school at the time in Delaware. I went to Syracuse Law School. When I came home from law school, what happened was my last semester, the only two political heroes I ever had, both were assassinated. Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy. Matter of fact, Kennedy was assassinated the day I graduated. I came home and my city is the only city in the United States of America occupied by the military since reconstruction for 10 months. Every single corner with someone, a military person standing with a drawn bayonet. Not a joke, 10 months. I had a job with a good law firm, a well known law firm, one of the oldest law firms in the state. And after awhile, I concluded that I was in the wrong place. They were good people, but I quit and became a public defender.
Joe Biden: (25:09)
I used to interview my clients in what they call the Northeast Corridor, where Amtrak runs from Washington to New York, that area goes right through my city. And I used to interview clients down in the basement of that train station before they were arraigned. And here I was thinking that … And we had the eighth largest black population of any state in the nation as the percent of population. And we were, to our great shame, a slave state, although we were one of those border states who fought in the side of the North, thank God.
Joe Biden: (25:52)
But anyway, make a long story short, what happened was I thought black and whites would never be in my city, talk to each other again. And here I was then, literally 40 years later to the month, on January 17th, standing on a platform at that very same train station and looking out over called the East Side, which had been burned to the ground. Literally it had been completely leveled. When things get burned out, they come in and level everything. And then across the Christina River, they call the Third Street Bridge, it was all overwhelmingly 100% African American community. And I was standing on that platform January 17th, waiting for a black man to come 26 miles from Philadelphia to pick me up and take me on a train ride to Washington DC with 10,000 people standing down below cheering.
Joe Biden: (26:52)
And my son Beau was alive then. He was the attorney general of the state of Delaware at the time. And my daughter, who’s a social worker, ran the largest criminal justice program in the state. And my son, my middle son, who was running the World Food Health Program, The World Food Program USA, the largest program in the world. I call them up and all of a sudden it hit me. Here I was and that whole area has been rebuilt. And third street bridge is still in a little bit of trouble, but things have moved. And I said, “Don’t tell me things can’t change.” I told them about the story.
Joe Biden: (27:35)
Am I violating social distancing here walking up? I guess I am. Sorry. Yeah.
Joe Biden: (27:42)
And I said, don’t tell me these can’t change. And I told the story and pointed, reminded them what it was when I was a young attorney. But I made a mistake about something. I thought you could defeat hate. Hate only hides. It only hides. And when someone in authority breathes oxygen under that rock, it legitimizes those folks to come on out, come out in front of the rocks. And I hadn’t planned on running for anything again after my son had died. I was a professor at college and running another program at another college. Until I saw those people coming out of Charlottesville, carrying torches, literally torches coming out of the fields. Close your eyes. Remember what you saw on television. Their veins bulging, their hateful speech, chanting the same antisemitic bile that was chanting in the streets of Germany in the 30s. On top of that, accompanied by white supremacists, Klu Klux Klan. A young woman was killed protesting those folks.
Joe Biden: (29:03)
And the president of United States was asked. He was asked, “What do you think?” And he said something no president’s ever, ever said. He said, “There are very fine people on both sides.” No president has ever said anything like that. The generic point I’m making is not all his fault, but it legitimizes. It legitimizes the dark side of human nature.
Joe Biden: (29:32)
And what it did though, it also exposed what had not been paid enough attention to, the underlying racism that is institutionalized in the United States still exists, has existed for 400 years. So what’s happened is that we end up in a circumstance like you had here in Kenosha and have here in Kenosha. But I had a serious operation years ago in neurosurgeon and he gave me a relatively small chance of making it after it was all over. I said, “I’ll be fine.” And he said, “You know what your problem is, Senator?” He said, “You’re a congenital optimist.”
Joe Biden: (30:15)
Well, I think we’ve reached an inflection point in American history. I honest to God believe we have an enormous opportunity now that the screen, the curtain’s been pulled back, and just what’s going on in the country, to do a lot of really positive things. As much as they say that Black Lives Matter has lost some standards since the president has gone on this rant about law and order, et cetera, still you have over 50% of the American people supporting it. It was up to 78. That’s never happened before. People are beginning to see because of COVID who the people are out breaking their necks and risking their lives to keep them safe in their homes.
Joe Biden: (31:03)
You know that whole definition of a firefighter, God made man and then he made a couple firefighters. You’re all crazy, thanks God. I grew up in a neighborhood you either became a firefighter or a priest. I wasn’t qualify for either. So here I am. But all kidding aside, think of what’s happened. Think of all the people. Who were all those people? You’ve got over 6,000 young dreamers, “dreamers,” the Hispanic community who in fact are on the front lines dealing with COVID. You have all those folks working in a supermarket, stacking the shelves, making five, six, seven bucks an hour and they’re mostly minorities, African Americans, Latinos. People are beginning to figure out who we are as a country. This is not who we are. This is not who we are.
Joe Biden: (31:57)
So the first point I want to make to you all is I am not pessimistic. I am optimistic about the opportunity if we seize it. I’m going to respond to what each of you had to say.
Joe Biden: (32:10)
Tim, you talked about this a lot more, then you got to put money behind the solutions. The country’s ready to put that money behind the solutions now. Here’s what I’m proposing is going to happen. You point out a 30% poverty rate among African Americans. You have living wages don’t exist. We’re going to nationalize $ 15 an hour. No one should ever have to work two jobs just to make it. That’s not right in America. Just two jobs just to be above the poverty rate level?
Joe Biden: (32:43)
Prison reform, there’s a whole lot of forms it takes. But my view is we should turn prison reform, and I’ve been preaching this for the last five years, from prison punishment to reform. So for example, anybody serves their time in prison and they get out, they should be entitled to every single program that exists under the federal government. Why don’t we want them getting a Pell Grant and going to school? Why don’t we want them getting a job and being able to get public housing, housing subsidies? Why don’t we want them qualifying for what used to be called food stamps? But right now, I wrote years ago with a guy named Specter, Senator from Pennsylvania, the Second Chance Act. Because right now we’re in a situation where you get out of prison, and I think you all know this, you get a bus ticket and 25 bucks. By the way, 93% of everybody, 93 out of every 100 prisoners in prison are behind a city jail, a county jail, a state jail, not a federal prison. Barack were I are able to reduce the prison population federally by 38,000 folks.
Joe Biden: (33:48)
Anybody who gets convicted of a drug crime, not one that is terms of massive selling, but consumption, they shouldn’t go to prison. They should go to mandatory rehabilitation. Instead of building more prisons, I’ve been proposing for some time we build rehabilitation centers. Mandatory. They’ve got to go to mandatory rehab, but it’s not part of their record when they get out if they finish it. Because the point you made, you get a record and it stays with you. Sorry, you can’t get the job because you did the following. Even if it’s a misdemeanor. We shouldn’t be putting anybody in jail for that.
Joe Biden: (34:26)
We should find ourselves in a situation where housing. Right now in the United States of America, we don’t have the kind of housing funding we had back in our administration earlier before that, even the Republican administrations. No one should have to pay more than 30% of their income to be able to live and have housing, including people on the street. That’s why I proposed a $400 billion program to vastly increase available housing in America. And by the way, it’s not a waste of money. Even the folks on Wall Street pointed out that will increase the GDP, make it grow. People will do better. People do better.
Joe Biden: (35:03)
Hard as a devil for any of your clients who are black to get an entrepreneurial business loan. All the studies show they’re just as qualified to be able to succeed as anyone else is. Barack and I put together a program that was $1.5 billion that brought $30 billion off the sidelines. And we provide that program for the local small business association. So you can go and apply. Because guess what? If you get a loan, then the private sector says, “Hey, he’s got government backing and we’re going to join him. We’ll get in the deal with him or her.” We’re going to move that to $150 billion. This is fundamentally changing where we go.
Joe Biden: (35:43)
Okay, I’m giving you too much. I can see you’re about to stand up.
Joe Biden: (35:48)
Mental health. Mental health is a badly needed commodity right now. That’s why in the Affordable Care Act, we insisted it be treated equally. There’s no difference between a mental health problem and a physical health problem. They’re both related to your health. They should be both covered. You talked about the whole idea of federal support clinics. We need community clinics. You guys are expected to do everything right now.
Joe Biden: (36:19)
And Barb, you talked about rebuilding. Well, you know what? Let’s get something straight here. Protesting is protesting, my buddy John Lewis used to say. But none of it justifies looting, burning or anything else. So regardless how angry you are, if you loot or you burn, you should be held accountable as someone who does anything else, period. It just cannot be tolerated across the board.
Joe Biden: (36:48)
And Angela, you talk about the whole issue of sentencing. One of the things that I’ve proposed is we make sure that prosecutors are able to have to list what the option charges were given to a person. For example, if you’re a white guy who can afford a lawyer and you’re charged with a crime, you’re not charged with nine crimes, nine and given nine alternatives and say, “If you plead to the least one, we’re going to put you on probation.” And you have no lawyer or you have a public defender’s getting paid half the federal prosecutor’s getting paid. Public defenders are going to get paid the same of federal public defenders, the same amount as prosecutors are going to get paid. So we have representation.
Joe Biden: (37:38)
Because once you get that on your record, you’ve got a real problem. Well, two people show for a job. You have that thing you pled to. You weren’t guilty of any of it, but rather than run the risk of going to jail for five years, you plead to get out from under anything, meaning you’d have probation. That happens all the time. That’s why we have to have the federal Department of Justice, which is not much of a Department of Justice right now, have the ability to go and look at the methods that are used by prosecutors in their offices, how they in fact deal with sentencing and what they do.
Joe Biden: (38:13)
There’s a lot more to say, but I probably already said too much, except that there’s a lot we’re able to do. The public is ready to do these things. I promise you. I promise you.
Joe Biden: (38:26)
Last piece, education. The idea in the United States of America, your education is determined by your zip code. Title one schools. You all know what a title one school is. Mostly in black and Hispanic neighborhoods, but also poor white neighborhoods where they can’t afford the tax base. Title one schools are unable to get $15 billion a year to make up for the $200 billion gap that exists between them and other school districts, white school districts. Well, guess what? We moved that to $45 billion a year. It means I can put every three, four and five year old in school. In school.
Joe Biden: (39:08)
We’ve learned a lot in the last eight years. Every major university and prestigious university of the country has pointed out that increases by 58% the chances of that child, no matter what home they came from, will get all the way through all 12 years of school. It also insists that we provide for, right now we have one school psychologist for every 1,505 kids in America. We know now that about 60% of a child’s brain is developed by the time they’ve reached that age and anxiety that exists with children that can be identified early is able to be dealt with. Anxiety. But they don’t do it now because they can’t pick it up. And our situation again, where when you do that, we know that the most at risk generation for the first time in American history is Z generation. They have the greatest degree of anxiety of any generation all the way up the scale, no matter where they are.
Joe Biden: (40:04)
We’ve also learned … And I’ll end with this. I know you’re getting too antsy. Sit down, man. Okay. [crosstalk 00:40:13] But this is important. Here’s the deal. If you think about it, we’ve finally figured out drug abuse doesn’t cause mental health problems. Mental health problems cause drug abuse. And if you don’t detect the anxiety in children early and deal with it and treat it, you increase exponentially the prospect that they’re going to in fact find themselves susceptible to what’s happening in the community.
Joe Biden: (40:42)
The generic point I’m making is there’s so much we can do. So much we can do. And we can do it just by eliminating the tax cut for the top one 10th of 1%, which is $1,350,000,000,000 that’s done nothing to help anybody. 19 corporations making a billion dollars a piece don’t pay a single penny in taxes. I’m not wanting to punish anybody, but everyone should pay a fair share. I can lay out for you … I won’t now because they’ll shoot me. But here’s the deal. I pay for every single thing I’m proposing without raising your taxes one penny. If you make less than 400 grand, you’re not going to get a penny taxed and you’re going to get a tax cut if you make under $125,000. So it’s not, “We can’t do this.” We haven’t been willing to do this. But I think the public’s ready.
Joe Biden: (41:36)
Now I’ll do whatever you tell me, boss.
Tim Mahone: (41:38)
You are the boss. I know when my dad would tell me to sit down, I sat down. So I’m good. I’m good. I think what you heard here was strength, experience and empathy. And what we do know is that Vice President Biden, you and Kamala Harris have the leadership and strength to restore faith and healing in this country. We appreciate you very much. We’re going to continue in the community conver-
Tim Mahone: (42:03)
… and appreciate you very much. We’re going to continue the community conversations because I’m sure you have more to hear from our community. Portia, would you like to come forward and lead us in the next round of conversation, please?
Joe Biden: (42:18)
[inaudible 00:42:18] bragging about you.
Reverend Barker: (42:22)
Hello, my name is Portia Bennett. I’m just going to be honest, Mr. Biden. I was told to go off this paper, but I can’t. You need the truth, and I’m part of the truth. I was born here, raised here, first to eighth grade class at the school that was named after his mother. So I have to give you the truth of the people. And the truth of the matter is we are heavily angry. Not angry as to where people say, “Oh, they’re protesting.” There’s a difference between a protestor and a rioter, a very big difference. We protest to get our voices heard. We protest to show that not just Blacks are tired of what’s going on. Because you can see there are Blacks, whites, Muslims, Chinese, Hispanic that are out there. We came together to help get this community together as well because we live here and we want it to stay the way we’ve always had it. But the changes that we want have to be more in effect.
Reverend Barker: (43:37)
We hear so many people saying, “Oh, we’re going to give you this, we’re going to give you that.” But we have yet to see action. And I was always raised to go off action and not words, because you’ll be let down every single time. And the action we want are hold these officers accountable to the same crimes that we get held accountable to. If I was that officer, I would be in the Kenosha County Jail right now. If I was these officers who commit these crimes, because if a medical examiner does their job and says, “Oh, I’m ruling it homicide,” that’s murder. Why are they not being done the same exact way that me or my brothers and sisters out here in this world are being treated? Why are there more police officers in the Black neighborhoods than in other neighborhoods? Why are we more targeted than anybody else?
Reverend Barker: (44:35)
We walk somewhere, automatically it’s, “You fit the description.” We wear something, automatically it’s, “Oh, you’re a bad person.” I’m only 31. And I’ve seen enough within these last two years to say, “I’m tired.” I’m a mother. My oldest is 13, my twins are nine. I do this because I want their future to be better than what I have right now, because my present is not good. But I speak because I want the truth heard, and I speak for the people in this city because I live in this city, and I’m out here with these people. A lot of people won’t tell the truth, but I’m telling the truth. It’s not what a lot of people think it is for us. We want the same exact rights as others. We want to be treated just like everyone else.
Reverend Barker: (45:34)
A lot of us get denied jobs because we mark that box as Black or African American knowing we are overly qualified for that position. People come in and tear down our houses in our neighborhoods instead of fixing them up and making them better. And now we’re all pushed to one side of town. Gentrification has to stop as well. We can’t get that if someone with that voice can’t put that into effect. That’s all we’re asking. We want the same treatment. We’re not asking, “Oh, put us above anybody,” we’re not saying we matter more than anybody, none of that. But for so many decades, we’ve been shown we don’t matter. And right now, we just want someone who’s actually going to show and put that action in.
Reverend Barker: (46:28)
There’s a lot of stuff we want done. And being someone who is out here who I literally live directly behind this church. I know the pastor. I come over and help with the food pantry some days. So I know it, I see it, I live it. Others who don’t see it and live it can’t tell you the truth. They can’t really give you the in depth things that we’re going through out here as Black and brown people. So I’m telling you. There’s way more that we want done, and it didn’t just start with Jacob. But we want change. We want change. So I thank you for coming to hear me.
Tim Mahone: (47:17)
Excuse me. Someone else would like to come up and provide insights on Kenosha? Alderman Kennedy?
Alderman Kennedy: (47:31)
Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for being here, listening. The spotlight’s been on our town. We talked about Sunday, what happened Sunday. And I feel like that was years ago. And when I’m walking out there and talking to my constituents and I’m talking to my neighbors and I’m talking to my friends and my family, I hear their pain. The 10th district, the city of Kenosha, did not suffer the same destruction that other parts of the city experienced. But like I spoke to Senator Baldwin, there’s a hurt in my section of town. There is a pain in my section of town. Mr. Blake was shot two blocks from my house.
Alderman Kennedy: (48:40)
But we speak about how we feel then, the despair, and the anger, and all of those things. But I also want to tell you about the humanity that’s coming out of these things. We know that someone came here to take a victory lap. We know that someone came here to show division. We know that someone came here not to help us. But the people surrounding the family decided, “We’re not going to show that picture to the world. We’re going to show them something different.” And you saw a block party happen right there where Mr. Blake was shot. You saw people celebrating life. You saw kids playing in bounce houses. You saw services being provided to the community. And this was put together in about a 24 hour period. And I’d love to sit up here and tell you I took credit for it, and I didn’t. It just happened organically with the people that are around them.
Alderman Kennedy: (49:50)
That’s the spirit in Kenosha, and that’s the thing that gives me hope. What gives me hope about your presidency is that we can stop talking the cynicism. When we go out there in that marketplace of voting, we’ll have a real idea. We’ll give people, I don’t want to use the other guy’s phrase there, but we’ll give them hope. And that’s so important. The things I’m going to need in my district in particular, it’s going to be more of those soft skills. There’s definitely the jobs and economic development and all the things that the other speakers have spoke on, that’ll help in my district immensely. But to restore faith in the system, that’s going to be very hard, very difficult. To restore faith in the process, that’s going to be very difficult. But when we know the man at the top, yourself, is speaking truth and speaking an honest truth, you’re going to make our work here in Kenosha a lot better, and I’m looking forward to that day. And I just again want to thank you.
Tim Mahone: (51:10)
Sir, would you like to provide any closing remarks for good?
Joe Biden: (51:15)
Tim Mahone: (51:15)
Joe Biden: (51:20)
First of all, I’m going to just stay seated, make it informal. Portia, the things that I talked about here that we have to do didn’t start with even back to Eric Garner, “I can’t breathe.” Been proposing these for a long time. I mean, literally for years. And the one thing I think we have to acknowledge, my mom used to have an expression. My mom would say, “You want to know me? Come walk in my shoes a mile.” Well, even though I’ve been involved with the African American community and the civil rights movement since I’ve been a junior in high school, desegregating movie theaters and the like, I can’t understand what it’s like to walk out the door or send my son out the door, or my daughter, and worry about just because they’re Black, they may not come back. I can intellectually understand it, but I can’t feel it.
Joe Biden: (52:41)
I just spent an hour or more with the family as I got off the airplane. Had an opportunity to spend some time with Jacob on the phone. He’s out of ICU. We spoke for about 15 minutes. His brother and two sisters, his dad and his mom on the telephone. And I spoke to them a lot before, but we spent some time together with my wife. And he talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how whether he walked again or not, he was not going to give up. We talked about a Psalm and my [inaudible 00:53:31] based on the 23rd Psalm. “May he raise you up with eagle’s wings and bury you on the breath of dawn until we … And keep you and hold you in the palm of his hand until we meet again.”
Joe Biden: (53:43)
Well, I think, Alderman, what’s been unleashed with a lot of people is they understand that fear doesn’t solve problems. Only hope does. And if you give up hope, you might as well surrender. There’s no real option. And as we talked, I listened to his mom. She was on the phone. She wasn’t with Jacob, she was in the same location. And as I said, his dad, his son, his brother, two sisters, and a family lawyer, two family lawyers were there. And what I came away with was the overwhelming sense of resilience and optimism that they have about the kind of response they’re getting. His mom talked about, we asked, my wife asked to say a prayer. And his mom said a prayer. She said, “I’m praying for Jacob, but I’m praying for the policemen as well. I’m praying that things change.”
Joe Biden: (55:11)
If you think a little bit about where we are right now, it’s been a terrible, terrible wake up call that’s gotten the rest of the nation to realize that the confluence of three things. One, the COVID crisis. Two, and we didn’t have to have over six million people contract COVID. Over 186,000 dead and climbing. If we had acted, if we’d had just acted. It’s been pointed out by the University of Columbia law school that if he had acted just one week earlier, 37,000 more people would have been alive. If he acted two weeks earlier, 51,000. Maybe 31 and 57 or 51 and … But the point is over 80,000 people would still be alive. You have to take responsibility if you’re a leader, a president. Instead of saying, “I’m not responsible, didn’t happen on my watch. I take no responsibility.”
Joe Biden: (56:19)
I think the country is much more primed to take responsibility because they now have seen what you see. But you don’t experience it the same way you do, Portia, because they’re not a bright young Black woman with two kids here, is it two or three children that you … Three children that you have to worry about. But there are changes that are taking place in the country. And one of the problems is that, and look, this is not about me. It’s really not about me. But if we have four more years, we’re going to have four years of the exact same thing, only it’s going to impact us for a couple generations. And the public kind of understands that now. And I think they’re so ready to do so many things. They either fully unaware of or aware of but never registered with them before. Or they just have seen things that they hadn’t seen before.
Joe Biden: (57:35)
When Dr. King, when he said, I know that’s ancient history, you weren’t even born. But when Bull Connor, I was in grade school when Bull Connor took those fire hoses and dogs on those Black women going to church in their Sunday best and little kids having the skin ripped off them by these high powered fire hoses, he thought he was putting a wooden stake in the heart of the civil rights movement. But in other parts of the country where they heard about this but didn’t believe it ever happened, everybody turned on a black and white TV. And they saw it. Said, “Oh my god.” Dr. King said it was a second emancipation. It got the Voting Rights Act, it got the Civil Rights Act. Didn’t get us all the way there, but made progress.
Joe Biden: (58:26)
And that young man stood there for eight minutes and I think it was 43 seconds watching, watching Floyd die, having his face pressed up against that curb. People not only United States, but all around the world said, “Oh my God. It really, really happens.” When you had a man of his size and physicality calling for his mom, it struck a nerve that hadn’t been struck before. It’s awful it has to happen. But I think we’re at one of those moments. We have this opportunity. If we don’t let up, we don’t let up.
Joe Biden: (59:14)
There’s a reason why this administration doesn’t want to talk about it, wants to only talk about dividing the country and about law and order. They don’t want to talk about all those people who have died from COVID. They don’t want to talk about the fact that almost a million people again file for unemployment, don’t have jobs. They don’t want to talk about the fact that you have tens of thousands of businesses closing, maybe for good. They don’t want to talk about the fact that the Congress passed legislation, Heroes Act, to provide money for states to be able to keep firefighters on the job, teachers on the job, first responders on the job, et cetera. They don’t want to talk about that because they don’t want to do it. They don’t feel it’s their obligation. So they’re trying to divert us the attention it’d have.
Joe Biden: (01:00:15)
If I get elected president, I promise you there will be a national commission on policing out of the White House where I’ll bring everyone to the table, including police chiefs, including civil rights activists, including the NAACP, including the African, the Latino community. We’re going to sit down there and we’re going to work it out. Because a significant portion of the police are decent people, but no one, there’s a lot of bad folks in every organization. There’s not a whole lot of people that want to speak up, be the odd man out or odd woman out, no matter what outfit you work with. And so we got to give a chance to change things. And we can. There is not a single solitary reason in the world. Why? Why, as I said, we shouldn’t be in a position that everybody … Hey, that’s my wife, Jill. Hey, Jilly. I’m Jill’s husband, actually.
Joe Biden: (01:01:22)
But I guess I should cut to the chase here. We’re in a situation now where we can not let up. We can not let up. Violence in any form is wrong. The idea that this president continues to try to divide us, gives succor to the white supremacists, talks about how there’s really good people on both sides, talks in ways that are just absolutely, I’ve never used this regarding the president before, not only incorrect, but immoral and just simply wrong, simply wrong. And the one concern I have, and I understand it, is that people are going to be so frustrated, particularly in the communities that need the help the most, need to be treated most clearly and equally, are going to say, “It’s not worth it at all. I’m not going to vote.”
Joe Biden: (01:02:17)
Guy was a very good friend of mine. Talked to him two days before he died. John Lewis. As John said, the only answer is to vote. It’s the only answer. [inaudible 01:02:35], but otherwise nothing else works in a democracy. It doesn’t work. The not so good guys win when we don’t vote. I understand. I really do have a sense of the frustration. But so where I am, I’m absolutely believe when the United States, when America set its mind to something, it’s never, never-
Joe Biden: (01:03:03)
… America set its mind to something it’s never, never, never, never, never failed. When we put our minds to and we do it together, never. We’ve gone through Wars and pestilence, plague. We’ve gone through a lot, and we’re finally now getting to the point, we’re going to be addressed the original sin of this country, 400 years old. It’s the original sin, slavery, and all the vestiges of it. I’m not saying in four years, and this is not about a campaigning, I can’t say if tomorrow God made me President, I can’t guarantee you everything gets solved in four years.
Joe Biden: (01:03:49)
But I guarantee you one thing, it’ll be a whole heck of a lot better. We’ll move a lot further down the road. People fear that which is different. We got to, for example, why in God’s name don’t we teach history in history classes. A black man invented the light bulb, not a white guy named Edison. Okay? There’s so much. Did anybody know before what’s recently happened? That black wall street in Oklahoma was burned to the ground?
Joe Biden: (01:04:28)
Anybody know these things? Because we don’t teach him. We’ve got to give people facts, teach them what’s out there, the idea. I just spent time with a number of the NFL players and basketball… And excuse me, basketball players, including Steph Curry. These folks are making a difference. Now it’s not about fame or glory, because they have brothers themselves. Fathers who’ve been beat up. Who’ve been brutalized just because they’re African-Americans. They’re about the time. They’re saying, I’m saying, “Enough is enough.”
Joe Biden: (01:05:12)
I think there is a chance for a real awakening here. And the point is, I don’t think we have any alternative, but to fight. I don’t think we have any alternative, but to fight back. [inaudible 01:05:28] alternative than just go tell the truth, just tell the truth. And a concluding comment I’ll make is, there’s a lot of folks who thought that, well, the president’s made great strides with his law and order strides here.
Joe Biden: (01:05:47)
That boy, after his convention, he really made inroads. He hasn’t, not at all. [inaudible 01:05:57] it should give you a little bit of, confidence in the American people, they ain’t buying it. With all the millions and millions and millions of dollars being spent, they’re not buying it. But we got to do more than them not buy it.
Joe Biden: (01:06:15)
We got to be honest with them and say, “You got to step up. You got to step up. We got to do a lot more, a lot more than we’ve done.” Because this is the first chance we’ve had in a generation, in my view, to deal and cut another slice off institutional racism toward getting the place where change is. And by the way, the main reason why I’m optimistic because of your generation, black, white, Hispanic, and Asian American. Did you ever think you’d turn on a TV… You’re much younger than I am, but you’re a little older than she is.
Joe Biden: (01:06:56)
You ever think you’d turn on the TV, and roughly two out of three ads would be biracial couples selling a product. That never would have happened in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s. The generation, this generation, is a different generation. They’re the least prejudice, the most optimistic, the best educated, the most desirable of change of any generation. So we can’t let them down. Those of us are a lot older. We got to join and join them and do it now. Again, I thank you. As I said, I really am optimistic. I promise you, win or lose, I’m going to go down fighting. I’m going to go down fighting for racial equality, equity across the board. We hold these truths to be self evident that all men and women are created equal endowed by their creator. Well, that may be what your birthright was, but it’s very different than actually being treated equally, being treated the same.
Joe Biden: (01:08:11)
Everything from black mortality rates in pregnancy, straight through to educational opportunities and everything in between, but the country’s ready. And if they’re not, it doesn’t matter because there are certain things I ain’t going to change. There are certain things worth losing over, and this is something worth losing over if we have to, but we’re not going to lose.
Tim Mahone: (01:08:34)
Thank you very much, sir. Round of applause for him. Those were truly, truly unifying words in a community that needs healing and unification. We’ll go down fighting with you.
Joe Biden: (01:08:52)
We’re not going to go down.
Tim Mahone: (01:08:53)
Definitely not going down. But let me say thing if I could, before I bring it up Pastor Monroe Mitchell is the gentleman in me, sir, I’d be remiss if I didn’t welcome the Doctor, Jill Biden. Ladies and gentlemen, please let’s welcome Dr. Jill Biden the appropriate way. Thank you. Welcome to Kenosha. Thank you very much. Pastor Monroe Mitchell, please come forward.
Pastor Monroe Mitchell: (01:09:28)
Thank you, Tim. Thank you Mr. Biden for coming out. Thank you, Pastor Barker for holding this great community event, this town hall meeting. And thank you to all the speakers too, that came forth. There was so much said. And I want to thank you too, Mr. Biden, for reminding us how important optimism is. We deal with so much negativity. We deal with so many problems. We need to focus on being positive, being optimist, in dealing with the solutions. So like I said, so much has been said in I’m just grateful to even be invited to this.
Pastor Monroe Mitchell: (01:10:06)
So anyway, let us stand as we get ready to dismiss in prayer. Father, we thank you once again. I thank you for your grace and for your mercy, your goodness and your kindness. Thank you, dear God for allowing us to come together in a spirit of oneness. Thank you for allowing Mr. Biden to take time out of his busy schedule. And thank you, dear God for allowing us to bring some issues to the table. And father, I pray right now, dear God that you take out hatred, that you move out hatred from our community and replace it with love.
Pastor Monroe Mitchell: (01:10:46)
Father, I pray sincerely and seriously, dear God, that you remind us each and every day that we can too be resilient and have tenacity, and move forward away from this destruction. And Lord God, I pray that you allow this community to heal, Kenosha. I pray, dear God, that you bless Kenosha, that you bring us back together, that you tear down the walls that separate us because of race and other issues.
Pastor Monroe Mitchell: (01:11:14)
And I pray, dear God, that you open up the channels of communication that much more between your people. And father this is not something that just started recently. This is something that’s been going on for awhile. So we pray dear God, that you, once again, continue to protect Kenosha, continue to protect Wisconsin, continue to protect this country. And also continue to protect this world. We lift up the Blake family today, Jacob Blake, we pray and ask that you touch him miraculously and triumphantly with his illness, with his pain and with the suffering.
Pastor Monroe Mitchell: (01:11:48)
We pray dear God for his family, as they go through this healing process, as they deal with all of these things in the media and situations with the police department and so forth. But father, I won’t stop there. I’ll pray and ask that you touch the Kenosha police department. For those that are doing the great job that’s needed to be done in the community. And I pray that you’ll touch the hearts of those that are not.
Pastor Monroe Mitchell: (01:12:12)
The hearts of those that may allow racism to come in, and bigotry to come in, and hatred to come in, for we know that some of it is learned behavior; it’s unfortunate. But we pray father that she’ll allow this community to work together. As so many has said today, we need to rebuild. We need to reconstruct. But I pray father, that we were rely on you as our ultimate source of strength. So Lord God, as we get ready to leave this place, only dismiss us from this place, but never from your presence. Now may the grace of God rest, rule, and reside in each and every one of our hearts today and forevermore, as we’ll give you all the praise, the honor, and the glory that you so rightfully deserve and much, much more.
Pastor Monroe Mitchell: (01:12:56)
And father I pray as none other than a servant who stands behind the cross. And I pray dear God, in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and my savior, and let everyone say, “Amen.”
Tim Mahone: (01:13:09)
Pastor Monroe Mitchell: (01:13:09)
Tim Mahone: (01:13:11)
Thank you, pastor Monroe. This concludes the program. We’re going to ask that everyone, please stay where you are. State staff will take over. We’re going to take a photo and they will direct traffic. Before we begin into that process, I’d like to thank Pastor Barker for hosting us here today, and Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President, Joe Biden for being here. We wish you well.
Tim Mahone: (01:13:35)
We thank you for bringing the unifying force to Kenosha. This is a community of immigrants and blacks, and Latinos, Germans, Polish Italians. We work together. We’re hurting right now. We know our challenge is to dig deep in our inner soul to heal our own community. We look forward to your leadership and the leadership of Senator Kamala Harris to restore faith in this community and faith in this country. God bless you.
Dr. Jill Biden: (01:14:04)
Amen [inaudible 01:14:04].
Speaker 2: (01:14:05)
[crosstalk 01:14:05] for participants in the room, we’re going to ask that you come up. But let’s do one row at a time, so we can keep people safe.
Speaker 3: (01:14:25)
[crosstalk 01:14:25] have you stay where you are.
Speaker 2: (01:14:26)
[crosstalk 01:14:26] turn around, perfect.
Speaker 3: (01:14:26)
And then turn around.
Speaker 2: (01:14:26)
Easy. Even easier. Fabulous. I love that. So you both will just turn around and then we’re good. Yeah. You just stay right here. We’re going to have everyone turn around in the pew.
Joe Biden: (01:14:29)
Speaker 2: (01:14:31)
Yes, sir. And then Adam, waving his hand.