President Trump will visit Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday, following days of protests in the city over the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake, the White House announced on Saturday.
Trump will meet with ‘law enforcement and survey damage from recent riots’, White House spokesman Judd Deere told reporters aboard Air Force One.
He did not say if the president will meet the family of Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down after he was shot multiple times in the back by police officers on August 23.
The visit is certain to exacerbate tensions in the city, where a crowd of about 1,000 demonstrators gathered outside a courthouse Saturday to denounce police violence.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is also set to travel to an undisclosed location on Monday to ‘condemn violence, and to note that chaos has unfolded’ on Trump’s watch, the New York Times reported.
While detail’s of Biden’s travel plans are not yet known, some have speculated that he could be headed to Kenosha as well.
Trump (pictured on Saturday) will visit Kenosha on Tuesday to ‘meet with law enforcement and survey damage from recent riots’, the White House said
Protesters march with the family of Jacob Blake during a rally against racism and police brutality in Kenosha on Saturday
Trump has been running his reelection campaign on a law-and-order mantle, denouncing protesters as ‘thugs’ while voicing his support for police.
He has also repeatedly offered to send in the National Guard or federal assistance to quell the unrest.
Blake, 29, took at least half a dozen shots in the back in front of his small children as he tried to get into his car last Sunday, in an incident that triggered an outpouring of anger over yet another shooting of a black man by white police.
During the rally against police brutality and racism on Saturday, his father, Jacob Blake Sr, called on protesters to refrain from looting and vandalism, which had overshadowed peaceful protests before a tense calm set in the past three nights.
‘Good people of this city understand. If we tear it up we have nothing,’ he told a gathering at a park that was the hub of protests in support of his son, Jacob Blake Jr.
‘Stop it. Show ’em for one night we don’t have to tear up nothing.’
The shooting of Blake has turned the mostly white city of 100,000 people south of Milwaukee into the latest flashpoint in a summer of nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and racism.
Blake, who is a father of six, has been left paralyzed after cops shot him multiple times in the back as he entered his car last Sunday
Jacob Blake’s father pleaded for peace during a rally at Civic Center Park in Kenosha on Saturday
Blake will likely participate via video from his hospital room in a court hearing next week about criminal charges that predated the shooting, his lawyer told Reuters on Saturday, adding he would plead not guilty.
Anger at Blake’s shooting, captured on video that went viral, led to street skirmishes; protesters hurled firecrackers and bricks at police in riot gear who fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets.
On Tuesday night a white teenager with a semi-automatic rifle shot three demonstrators, and two of them died.
In Kenosha on Saturday, people painted messages of unity on boards protecting storefronts after many businesses were burned to the ground in arson attacks and vandalism.
People march in support of Jacob Blake and his family to the Kenosha County Courthouse on Saturday
Residents hoped calm would hold for a fourth night as protesters, some wearing ‘Justice for Jacob’ masks, spoke about the need for racial justice.
The 17-year-old suspect in Tuesday night’s killings, Kyle Rittenhouse, surrendered to police on Wednesday near his home in Illinois close to the Wisconsin border.
Kenosha officials have been criticized for videos showing law enforcement agents giving him water before the burst of violence and acting chummy with armed militia men in the streets.
Trump has repeatedly condemned the protests that have rocked the country since the death of George Floyd in May, as he presses a law and order message while fighting an uphill battle for re-election in November.
The president has not specifically commented on Rittenhouse or Blake.
News of Trump’s Kenosha visit caused a stir on Twitter as users said it would likely incite more violence in the city.
‘Last thing needed right now, Trump coming in to politically capitalize on police violence and the protests against it,’ one man wrote.
‘He wants to bask in the misery and chaos. He wants to make it somehow about him and how he’s the hero. And he wants to revel in the pain,’ another wrote.
One person tweeted a cartoon of Trump as a gas canister giving a speech to a crowd of unlit matches, writing: ‘Trump will arrive to ensure the fighting continues and worsens.’
Another user questioned: ‘Optics not withstanding, am I the only one who feels this is a bad idea? I see no scenario where @realDonaldTrump going heals wounds.
‘I so hope I’m wrong. We’re on the edge of a #CivilWar. I hope he goes as peacemaker.’
A few critics called for Trump to cancel the visit altogether – while others tweeted at Biden and Harris asking them to show up in Kenosha as well.
News of Trump’s Kenosha visit caused a stir on Twitter as users said it would likely incite more violence in the city
A few critics called for Trump to cancel the visit altogether – while others tweeted at Biden and Harris asking them to show up in Kenosha as well
It’s possible that Biden could be on his way to Wisconsin, as a source familiar with his plans told the Times he’s traveling somewhere on Monday to address violence.
The report came as Biden spoke to the National Guard Association of America in a virtual meeting on Saturday.
‘You’ve been called out to help keep the peace as the country continues to struggle and overcome our racial justice crisis,’ the former vice president said, noting the National Guard had been deployed to Kenosha.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is also set to travel to an undisclosed location on Monday to ‘condemn violence, and to note that chaos has unfolded’ on Trump’s watch
Biden also took aim at Trump, saying: ‘I promise you, as president, I’ll never put you in the middle of politics or personal vendettas. I’ll never use the military as a prop or as a private militia to violate rights of fellow citizens. That’s not law and order. You don’t deserve that.’
Monday’s trip could be a sign that the Biden campaign is worried about losing ground on the issue of law and order.
Biden mentioned the Rittenhouse shooting in an interview with CNN last week, saying: ‘I don’t know enough to know whether that 17-year-old kid, exactly what he did.
‘Allegedly he’s part of a militia coming out in the state of Illinois. Have you ever heard the president say one negative thing about white supremacists? Have you ever heard it?’
While Trump has not said anything about Rittenhouse, his son Donald Trump Jr appeared to show support for the gunman by retweeting a post calling him ‘a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump’.
‘Violent extremists were destroying people’s lives for months, 30 people were killed. Democrats rejected Federal assistance every time Trump offered it. Media lied about Trump deploying “secret police,”‘ read the tweet originally posted by journalist Tim Pool.
‘Finally some kid from a nearby town, about 20 minutes drive, decides to go up and protect businesses and offer medical support to people, even the rioters. He was threatened and shot at.’
A criminal complaint released following Rittenhouse’s arrest did not confirm whether he was shot at. His victims were reportedly unarmed.
Donald Trump Jr appeared to show support for Rittenhouse by retweeting a post (pictured) from journalist Tim Pool that called him ‘a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump’