The city has been riven by protests since the Aug. 23 shooting of Blake, who was hit seven times in the back by police
KENOSHA (US), Sept 2 (AP): President Donald Trump charged into the latest eruption in the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice on Tuesday, blaming “domestic terror” that he said fuelled the violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and declaring it was enabled by Democratic leaders.
While Trump declared the violence “anti-American,” he offered no words for the underlying cause of the anger and protests — accusations of police violence against Black men — and did not mention Jacob Blake, who was badly wounded last week in Kenosha.
Soon after arriving in the city, a visit made over the objections of state and local leaders, Trump toured the charred remains of a block besieged by violence and fire. With the scent of smoke still in the air, he spoke to the owners of a century-old store that had been destroyed and continued to link the violence to the Democrats, blaming those in charge of Kenosha and Wisconsin while raising apocalyptic warnings if their party should capture the White House.
“These are not acts of peaceful protest but, really, domestic terror,” said Trump. And he condemned Democrats for not immediately accepting his offer of federal assistance, claiming “They just don’t want us to come, These governors don’t want to call, and the mayors don’t want to call. They have to ask.”
The city has been riven by protests since the Aug. 23 shooting of Blake, who was hit seven times in the back by police as he was getting into a car while they were trying to arrest him. Protests have been concentrated in a small area of Kenosha, and while there were more than 30 fires set in the first three nights, the situation has calmed since then.
Trump’s motorcade passed throngs of demonstrators, some holding American flags in support of the president, others jeering while carrying signs that read Black Lives Matter.
A massive police presence, complete with several armoured vehicles, secured the area, and barricades were set up along several of the city’s major thoroughfares to keep onlookers at a distance from the passing presidential vehicles.
Offering federal resources to help rebuild the city, Trump toured a high school that had been transformed into a law enforcement command post. He said he tried to call the Blake’s mother but opted against it after the family asked that a lawyer listen in.
He later added he felt “terribly” for anyone who suffered a loss, but otherwise only noted that the situation was “complicated” and “under investigation.” The only words acknowledging the suffering of African Americans came from a pastor who attended the law enforcement roundtable.
Pressed by reporters, Trump repeatedly pivoted away from assessing any sort of structural racism in the nation or its police departments, instead blasting what he saw as anti-police rhetoric.
Painting a dark portrait of parts of the nation he leads, the president again linked the radical forces he blamed for the violence to the Democrats and their presidential nominee, Joe Biden, declaring that chaos could soon descend on other cities across America.
Trump condemned unrest in Portland, Oregon, too — as well as an increase in shootings in cities including Chicago and New York — and tried to take credit for stopping the violence in Kenosha with the National Guard.
Biden has assailed Trump as an instigator of the deadly protests that have sprung up on his watch. On the eve of his visit, Trump defended a teenager accused of fatally shooting two men at a demonstration in Kenosha last week though he did not mention the young man Tuesday.