‘I support them’: Kamala Harris says it is ‘no wonder’ people taking to streets in pre-RNC broadside against Trump

‘People are rightfully angry and exhausted’

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
Thursday 27 August 2020 16:21 BST
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Kamala Harris says it is 'no wonder' people taking to streets in pre-RNC broadside against Trump

Kamala Harris has said it is “no wonder” protesters are taking to the streets across America and that she supports them, in a hard-punching attack on Donald Trump.

As Kenosha, Wisconsin, was said to be returning to a situation of relative calm following three days of protests, unrest and violence that followed the police’s shooting of an unarmed black man, the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate said Mr Trump had failed to even acknowledge the issue.

“Thankfully he is alive today,” Ms Harris said of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a father-of-three, whose sons witnessed their father being shot.

“Joe and I spoke with [the Blake family] yesterday. They are an amazing group of people with extraordinary courage. Even in their pain and grief ... they spoke about the need to end violence so the nation can heal.”

She added: “People are rightfully angry and exhausted. And after the murders of Breonna, George, Ahmaud, and so many others, it’s no wonder people are taking to the streets.

Jacob Blake Sr speaks at a press conference about his son Jacob Blake who was shot seven times by police officers (AFP via Getty Images)

“And I support them. We must always defend peaceful protests and peaceful protesters. We should not confuse them with those looting and committing acts of violence, including the shooter who was arrested for murder.”

Ms Harris spoke a day after authorities in Kenosha released the name of the police officer, Rusten Sheskey, who shot Mr Blake seven times at close range on Sunday.

Police also said they had arrested a white 17-year-old, Kyle Rittenhouse, on suspicion of shooting dead two people and injuring a third in an incident late on Tuesday night during protests sparked by Mr Blake's shooting.

Kenosha police chief defends vigilante shooter's motives

At the same time, the family of Mr Blake has appealed for calm and said their relative would not be pleased to learn of the violence.

Mr Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, said her son would “very unpleased” to learn of the damage to his city.

“If Jacob knew what was going on he would be very unpleased. So I’m really asking and encouraging everyone in Wisconsin and abroad to take a moment and examine your heart,” Ms Jackson said this week.

Ms Harris called for “meaningful police reform” and an acknowledgement of “systemic racism” to address the growing violence.

“The reality is that the life of a black person has never been treated as fully human,” she said, as Republicans prepared for the final evening of their national convention.

“And we have yet to fulfil that promise of equal justice under law. We will only achieve that when we come together to pass meaningful police reform ... and acknowledge, yes acknowledge systemic racism.”

Ms Harris also criticised the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has now infected around 5.8m Americans and killed at least 180,000.

“He froze. He was scared. And he was petty and vindictive,” she said.

“And here’s what you have to understand about the nature of a pandemic: It’s relentless. You can’t stop it with a tweet. You can’t create a distraction and hope it’ll go away. It doesn’t go away.”

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