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Kamala Harris visits with Jacob Blake family: Carrying ‘weight of a lot of voices on their shoulders’

Touching down in Milwaukee on Labor Day, Harris rallied Democratic base constituencies — Black, Hispanic and union member voters.

Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris Campaigns In Milwaukee
Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris tours an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) training facility on September 7, 2020 in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin suburb.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

In her debut in battleground Wisconsin as the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, on Labor Day, met with the family of Jacob Blake Jr. and pursued labor, Black and Hispanic votes.

The Blake family members are “carrying the weight of a lot of voices on their shoulders,” Harris said.

Breaking down multiple interrelated storylines emerging on Monday dealing with Blake and the looming presidential vote:

On the Wisconsin push

Harris stumped in the Milwaukee area Monday while Vice President Mike Pence campaigned in La Crosse, in northwest Wisconsin. President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by 22,000 votes in 2016 in a state Hillary Clinton never visited.

The Evanston-raised Blake, 29, who is Black, was shot seven times in the back by a white Kenosha police officer on Aug. 23. The Blake shooting sparked peaceful protests and violent, destructive riots in the city between Chicago and Milwaukee on the Lake Michigan shore.

Trump was in Kenosha last Tuesday to show support for law enforcement while ignoring Blake’s shooting. Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden Thursday met with the Blake family — the hospitalized Blake joined by phone — and then held a session with community members discussing systemic racism.

The Biden/Harris ticket needs a big turnout from Democratic base constituencies — Black, Hispanic and union member voters.

After Harris spent about an hour with the Blake family, she toured an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training facility in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa and talked with labor leaders and then discussed Biden’s racial equity economic plans with Black business owners in Milwaukee.

She wrapped up the trip discussing the COVID-19 pandemic impact on essential workers with Hispanic community leaders at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport.

Harris and the Blake family

Harris spoke with the hospitalized Blake by phone while meeting with some of his family at the airport after she landed: His father, Jacob Blake Sr., two sisters identified by the campaign as Letetra Widman and Zietha Blake, and lawyers Patrick Salvi Jr. and B’Ivory LaMarr. Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, and lawyer Ben Crump were on the phone.

While on the tour of the IBEW facility, Harris, a California senator, was asked by a reporter about the Blake family meeting.

Replied Harris, “Really wonderful. I mean they’re an incredible family and what they’ve endured and they do it with such dignity and grace. And you know, they’re carrying the weight of a lot of voices on their shoulders.”

Asked about a message, Harris said, “Just to, one, to express concern for their well-being and of course, for their brother and their son’s well being and to let them know that they have support.”

In a CNN interview later Monday, LaMarr said Harris spoke “almost as a family member” who was “essentially counseling the family on grief and how to deal with these things and providing a good outlook to our community.”

He also said the younger Jacob Blake has begun using a wheelchair “to kind of start getting around.”

Crump said in a statement, “Jacob Jr. told Sen. Harris that he was proud of her, and the senator told Jacob that she was also proud of him and how he is working through his pain.”

“Jacob Jr. assured her that he was not going to give up on life for the sake of his children.”

Crump said Harris also discussed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act — stalled in the GOP Senate after clearing the Democratic-run House — and “implicit bias training.”

Blake Jr. is paralyzed below the waist and suffers from other massive internal injuries.

Crump in an Aug. 30 CBS “Face the Nation” interview said bullets hit Blake’s spinal cord and shattered a vertebrae. He lost most of his intestines, his colon and use of other organs.

Harris was not asked in her brief exchange with pool reporters about pending charges against Blake. Last Friday, wearing a shirt and tie in his hospital bed, Blake in a Zoom hearing pleaded not guilty to charges of third-degree sexual assault and misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing, all stemming from a domestic incident earlier this summer.

Harris Chicago fundraising

On Thursday afternoon, according to an invitation obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, Harris headlines a fundraiser billed as a Chicago virtual conversation and reception and aimed at Chicago donors. The top ask is for a $100,000 contribution.

Trump backers rally in Highland Park

Flag-waving Trump backers rallied on a corner in downtown heavily Democratic north suburban Highland Park Monday, spurring a counter-demonstration of Biden and Black Lives Matter supporters.