President Trump visits Kenosha after officials plea for him to cancel trip
The mayor of Kenosha says that Trump’s visit is too early because he feels his city needs to prioritize healing before politics.
Kenosha, WI has lived through over a week of protests following an officer shooting Jacob Blake in the back seven times.
The attorney for the Blake family, Benjamin Crump told outlets that the 29-year old was “breaking up a fight between two women,” but local police said that resisting arrest escalated the altercation.
Blake faced an arrest warrant from July on charges of third-degree sexual assault, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. The women who filed the complaint called law enforcement to report Blake’s presence the day he was shot.
He spent days handcuffed to a hospital bed and he is currently paralyzed from the waist down.
The city continued to suffer from more loss as a shooting on the third night of unrest left two protestors dead and one injured. Seventeen-year old Kyle Rittenhouse is the suspect of the shooting and he has been charged with six criminal counts. The investigation is ongoing.
President Donald Trump has condemned all violent protests following the death of George Floyd and shooting of Blake, but refused to condemn Rittenhouse in a Monday press conference.
“He was trying to get away from them, I guess it looks like. And he fell and then they very violently attacked him. It was something that we’re looking at right now and it's under investigation but I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would’ve been killed,” said Trump insinuating that the shooting happened in self defense.
The president announced that he would still be traveling to Kenosha even after state and local officials pleaded for him to postpone or cancel his visit.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers wrote a letter to Trump, who continuously declares himself as a “law and order” president, urging him to reconsider his visit.
“I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together,” Evers wrote.
Before the president took off for Wisconsin on Tuesday, he told reporters that he did not know if he would be meeting with the Blake family.
He also criticized the Mayor of Kenosha, John Antaramian, for supporting the demonstrations.
“I saw last night where these radical anarchists were trying to get into the mayor’s house, and lots of bad things were happening to this poor, foolish, very stupid mayor,” he said.
After landing, he toured businesses that were damaged in the wake of the violence and met with law enforcement.
Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and Attorney General William Barr accompanied the president on his visit.
The three participated in a roundtable discussion on community safety with local leaders.
In the attorney general’s remarks, he claimed that the intent of protests across the country are no longer about racial justice.
“The violence that erupted shortly after the shooting is simply not a legitimate response to a police shooting. The looting and the arson were unacceptable. And as it progressed it became more and more distant from the issue of racial justice, it was violence for violence sake,” Barr said.
Trump disregarded the notion that police brutality was a systemic problem or that it dispassionately impacts Black Americans by repeatedly referring to actions like the one Kenosha as “bad apples” in law enforcement.
He then deferred blame for the widespread violence onto Democrats.
“To stop the political violence we must stop the radical ideology that includes this violence. Reckless far left politicians continue to push the destructive message that our nation and our law enforcement are oppressive or racist. They’ll throughout any word that comes to them,” he said.
Many have viewed the trip as Trump playing politics because winning Wisconsin again is pivotal to his reelection in November.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden was asked on Monday while making a campaign stop in Pittsburgh if he was planning a trip to Wisconsin. He said he was looking into it and hoped to be able to do so.
Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris say that they have spoken with the Blake family.
The death of Floyd was also heavily politicized, as his brothers addressed the Democratic National Convention on its first night.
Criminal justice being central to the 2020 campaign was inevitable, but communities will hope that politicians can think past the election and talk about solutions to the issue.