Joe Biden to travel to flashpoint city of Kenosha on Thursday

WILMINGTON, UNITED STATES (AFP) – Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden will travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Thursday (Sept 3), his campaign said, after a controversial visit by Donald Trump to the city at the heart of fresh protests against racism and police brutality.

“Vice-president Biden will hold a community meeting in Kenosha to bring together Americans to heal and address the challenges we face,” a statement from his team said on Wednesday in announcing the trip to the city where a black father, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer on Aug 23.

Biden will be accompanied by his wife Jill, and the couple will also make an unspecified “local stop,” according to the campaign statement.

Wisconsin is expected to play a crucial role in the Nov 3 presidential election.

Trump won it in a surprise victory in 2016, and the Republican president visited Kenosha on Tuesday – against the wishes of the Democratic mayor and state governor, who feared his presence would stoke tensions.

The demonstrations, which began peacefully the night that Blake – who survived the shooting but could be paralysed for life – was shot, devolved in to violence for several nights running.

Tensions culminated on Aug 25, when two people were shot dead and a third injured. A 17-year-old white Trump supporter has been arrested and charged with murder.

Trump equated the protests demanding racial justice with “domestic terror” by violent mobs during his visit on Tuesday, as he toured the remains of burned businesses and threw his support behind law enforcement.

He did not meet with Blake’s family.

Trump’s 2016 rival Hillary Clinton was widely criticised for not campaigning in Wisconsin.

Democrats had planned to hold their party convention in the state this summer, but the event was forced almost entirely online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While Democratic voters have said they understood the decision, many have called for Biden to visit their state before the election.

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