UNITED STATES—During former Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin on September 3, activist Porsche Bennett refused to read from a script when addressing Biden before an assembly. Bennett claimed to have received the paper from her group, Black Lives Activists Kenosha (BLAK), in which she is an organizer.
“My name in Porsche Bennett. I’m just going to be honest, Mr. Biden, I was told to go off this paper, but I can’t. You need the truth and I’m part of the truth,” Bennett began.
“Sure,” Biden said.
“I was born here, raised here, first eighth-grade class at the school that was named after his mother. So, I have to give you the truth of the people. And the truth of the matter is, we are heavily angry. Not angry as to where people say, ‘Oh, they’re protesting,’ there’s a difference between a protester and a rioter. A very big difference. We protest to get our voices heard. We protest to show that not just Blacks are tired of what is going on. Because you can see there are Blacks, Whites, Muslims, Chinese, Hispanic that are out there. We came together to help get this community together as well because we live here, and we want it to stay the way we always had it. But the changes that we want have to be more in effect,” Bennett continued.
A complete video of the event is online via C-SPAN. Bennett begins speaking at minute 42:48.
On Twitter, Washington Post blogger Jonathan Capehart shared more comments from Bennett, following the event:
“Just spoke with Porsche Bennett, the young woman who said at @JoeBiden Kenosha event, ‘I was supposed to read off this paper, but I can’t. I need to tell you the truth.’ Bennett said the paper she had was given to her by her organization. The name of the group is Black Lives Activists Kenosha (BLAK) and Bennett is an organizer. Here’s what she told me about that paper and why she went off-script. ‘It was just little specific demands that we wanted put out there…but I felt like much more was needed to be said. So I didn’t go off our demands strictly on the paper. I spoke straight from my heart…He needed to hear more of what was from our hearts,’ Bennett told me.”
Initially, some individuals perceived the paper was from the Biden campaign. Former White House Press Secretary for Former President George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer, Tweeted:
“The press would be in a feeding frenzy if the Bush staff handed ‘real’ people the questions to ask Bush at [a] townhall style event. Let’s see how acquiescent the Biden press corps is – or can they still be tough on the person they cover?”
The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee and his wife, Jill Biden, visited Kenosha where police officers shot Jacob Blake Sunday evening, August 23. They met with local officials and activists at the Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha. The community expressed their concerns about racism, the police, resident and business situations affected by the recent, consecutive protests triggered by Blake’s shooting.
“We need a president who will work to lower the temperature — not raise it. A president who will bring people together and find solutions to the challenges we face. That’s what I went to Kenosha to do today, and it’s what I’ll do every day in the White House,” Biden tweeted on September 3.
At the gathering, Biden said he spent about an hour or more with Blake’s family after getting off the airplane. He spoke with them over the phone and said Blake was released from the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.
“We spoke for about 15 minutes. His brother and two sisters, his dad, and his mom on the telephone. […] He talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how whether he walked again or not he was not going to give up,” Biden said.