Kamala Harris arrived in Milwaukee on Monday for her first trip to Wisconsin — or any battleground state — since she got the nomination as Joe Biden's running mate.
The senator from California and former prosecutor met with the family of Jacob Blake after arriving in Milwaukee about 11 a.m.
Blake, who remains in the hospital after being shot in the back seven times by a Kenosha police officer, joined the meeting near Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport by phone.
Blake's father, sisters and members of his legal team met privately with Harris at Signature Flight Support. Blake's family has called on lawmakers to addresslongstanding racism. Harris is the first Black woman and the first Asian-American to be on a major party's presidential ticket.
The shooting was captured on cell phone video and sparked days of protests and unrest in Kenosha.
Both Harris and Biden have said that Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey should be charged in the shooting that left Blake paralyzed. Biden met with the family during his visit to Wisconsin last week.
"Their sacrifice and the tragedy of their experience is something that many Americans are concerned about and I want to make sure that they know we care about them," she said.
"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,” Harris said about the meeting during a tour of an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training facility in Wauwatosa.
Harris said she wanted to express concern for Blake's well-being and to let the family know that they have her support.
Harris summarized her trip to Wisconsin Monday as about the dignity of human beings and the dignity of work.
Harris toured the union facility and spoke with instructors asking about how students are doing and how teaching has changed during the coronavirus pandemic.
"There's just some skills like the transformers and the splicing that you have to be face-to-face," said Tom Kennedy, IBEW Local 494 member and continuing education instructor, about the blended teaching the union has shifted to.
The instructors showed Harris how the school was managing to hold in-person instruction by installing partitions at workstations, having students work alone instead of in pairs and limiting class size.
"Kamala saw firsthand how the state-of-the-art training center provides a no-cost education to the region’s men and women who want to become electrical workers,” Business Manager Dean Warsh said in a prepared statement.
A couple of dozen supporters lined the street outside the training facility to wave to Harris as her motorcade arrived Monday afternoon. Harris did not hold any public events. She did tell supporters who were waiting for her on Martin Luther King Drive after a roundtable discussion she held Monday evening "I need your help."
She met with Black leaders in Milwaukee including Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, JoAnne Sabir, a cofounder of the Sherman Phoenix business hub for Black entrepreneurs, and Reggie Moore, the director of the city's Office of Violence Prevention.
"It’s an important thing for us to have leaders who care, leaders who are going to show up and listen to the concerns, especially with so many Black business owners here at the table right now," Barnes said after the meeting.
"And you juxtapose that with the White House’s recent decision to cancel all training related to race. It’s unfortunate that at a time when we have so many disparities here in Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin and all across the country that Donald Trump won’t respond to that crisis within a crisis," Barnes said.
Barnes was referring to a Trump administration memo ordering an end to funding of employee training in federal agencies on topics including "white privilege" and "critical race theory," which the memo characterized as "anti-American propaganda."
The campaigns took different approaches to the Kenosha stops last week. Trump toured damage done to businesses during violent protests and Biden spoke to the Blake family and community members.
The rest of Harris' stop in Milwaukee includes meeting with Black business leaders. This is Harris' first time in the state as the vice presidential candidate. Harris gave her speech during the Democratic National Convention in August from Delaware, instead of the host city — Milwaukee.