Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday condemned the “needless violence” that has unfolded in Kenosha, Wis., since the police shooting of a Black man, as he also expressed his solidarity with peaceful protesters and denounced systemic racism.
The remarks, made in a direct-to-camera video posted on social media, come as Mr. Biden, the Democratic nominee, confronts competing political pressures from both the left and right: While the Trump campaign works to cast him as radically anti-law enforcement, many Americans — particularly progressives — have been overwhelmingly supportive of protests against racial injustice.
In the message, Mr. Biden says that he has spoken with the parents and other family members of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot multiple times in Kenosha, Wis., by the police with his children nearby. After the shooting, which outraged many Americans, some protests turned destructive, leading Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin, a Democrat, to call for a state of emergency. Two people were killed in a shooting related to the protests, and a white teenager who was not believed to be among the protesters was arrested and charged in connection with the shooting.
Once again, a Black man — Jacob Blake — was shot by the police. In front of his children. It makes me sick.
Is this the country we want to be?
Needless violence won’t heal us. We need to end the violence — and peacefully come together to demand justice. pic.twitter.com/WdNqrxA3PK
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 26, 2020
“I told them justice must and will be done,” Mr. Biden says of his discussion with Mr. Blake’s family, urging viewers to “put yourself in the shoes of every Black father and Black mother in this country and ask, Is this what we want America to be?”
He also issued his own sharp criticism of the chaos.
“As I said after George Floyd’s murder, protesting brutality is a right and absolutely necessary,” Mr. Biden said. “Burning down communities is not protest, it’s needless violence. Violence that endangers lives. Violence that guts businesses, and shutters businesses, that serve the community. That’s wrong.”
It was the latest example of the balancing act Mr. Biden must negotiate on matters of law enforcement as he approaches the election. Mr. Biden’s deep involvement in the 1994 crime bill and record of tough-on-crime instincts has earned him many skeptics on the left and among those focused on criminal justice reform, making his stewardship of this moment of national outrage over police brutality all the more high-stakes.
At the same time, the Trump campaign has repeatedly — and falsely — accused Mr. Biden of seeking to defund the police, a measure that he opposes, but a claim that could be damaging in some swing states if the Republicans can make the title stick, a tactic they have pursued throughout their party convention this week.