Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Joe Biden said there is a chance for "a real awakening" following the police shooting of Jacob Blake after the Democratic presidential candidate visited the Blake family in Kenosha, Wis., on Thursday.
Biden spoke during a community meeting at Grace Lutheran Church in the city where Blake was shot seven times by a police officer, leaving him paralyzed. Two protesters were also shot and killed by a 17-year-old who traveled from Illinois in response to the demonstrations against Blake's shooting.
The vice president invoked the response to the shooting as well as the worldwide protests in response to the fatal Memorial Day police shooting of George Floyd, as he addressed the history of racism in the United States.
"We've gone through a lot. We're finally now getting to a point, we're going to be addressing the original sin of this country, 400 years old, the original sin of this country, slavery," he said. "There's a chance for a real awakening here, and the point is, I don't think we have any alternative but to fight."
He also commented on President Donald Trump's rhetoric, including his comments in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., protests which Biden has cited as a reason he decided to run for president, saying they legitimize "the dark side of human nature" and have also exposed institutionalized racism.
"I made a mistake about something. I thought you could defeat hate. It only hides. It only hides," Biden said.
Biden said he spoke to Blake for 15 minutes by phone while visiting his family and praised his resolve.
"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 of Blake. "Fear doesn't solve problems. Only hope does. If you give up hope, you might as well surrender. There's no other option."
Biden also had conversations with Blake's mother, son, brother and two sisters, saying he came away with an "overwhelming sense of resilience and optimism" that they have.
"His mom said a prayer and she said, 'I'm praying for Jacob and I'm praying for the policeman as well. I'm praying that things change.' If you think a little bit about where we are right now, it's been a terrible, terrible wakeup call."
Blake's attorney, Ben Crump, released a statement saying Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, had a "very engaging" meeting with Blake's family.
"The family was grateful for the meeting and was very impressed that the Bidens were so engaged and willing to really listen," Crump wrote.Sign up for our daily Top News Newsletter