US Election: Trump ignores local officials’ pleas, heads to Kenosha, Wisconsin
The visit to the current hotspot of racial unrest comes after Trump defended a gunman accused of killing two protesters.
US President Donald Trump has visited Wisconsin, the city where Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was paralysed after being shot in the back seven times by police.
The visit on Tuesday September 1, 2020, comes despite urging from local officials, including the state’s governor, that the president’s presence would further agitate the days of unrest that have followed the August 23 shootings and which, at times, have turned violent.
The governor of Wisconsin has said Trump’s visit to Kenosha will ‘hinder our healing’.
“I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing,” wrote Governor Tony Evers in a letter to Trump earlier this week.
The president is set to meet with law enforcement and survey “property affected by recent riots”, according to the White House.
Trump said on Monday he would not meet Blake’s family.
He said he spoke to Blake’s mother’s pastor to set up a phone call with the family but demurred because “they wanted to have lawyers involved and I thought that was inappropriate”.
However, shortly before leaving Washington for Kenosha, Trump told reporters his team was still “making that determination” on a meeting with the family.
The Blake family instead plans to hold a counter-event during Trump’s visit, according to the US media.
On Monday, when asked about concerns his visit could make matters worse, Trump responded, “Well it could also increase enthusiasm, and increase love for our country.”
The controversial visit fits into Trump’s larger message that Democratic opponent Joe Biden has sided with “anarchists” and “rioters” amid the unrest.
The president, in recent weeks, has increasingly sought to focus attention on what he calls the threat to American cities and suburbs, and away from the coronavirus pandemic.