The White House said late Sunday that President Donald Trump is still planning to visit the Wisconsin city of Kenosha despite its mayor and governor urging him to reconsider as the city attempts to heal amid the unrest that erupted following the shooting of Jacob Blake.
“The White House has been humbled by the outreach of individuals from Kenosha who have welcomed the president’s visit and are longing for leadership to support local law enforcement and businesses that have been vandalized,” Judd Deere, the White House deputy press secretary, said in a statement. “President Trump looks forward to visiting on Tuesday and helping this great city heal and rebuild.”
Kenosha, located along Lake Michigan between Milwaukee and Chicago, Ill., has been upended by protests against racial inequality ignited Aug. 23 when a White police officer shot Blake seven times in the back, leaving him paralyzed. On Tuesday, two people were fatally shot during the protests and a 17-year-old from Illinois has been arrested and faces several charges for their deaths.
The White House’s reaffirmation of Trump’s visit to the city came hours after Tony Evers, the Democratic governor of Wisconsin, urged Trump in a letter to “reconsider” as his presence in the community will hinder its work to heal.
“I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state. 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 said.
The job of elected officials is to lead by example and to calm those who are hurting and dealing with trauma, he said.
“Now is not the time for divisiveness. Now is not the time for elected officials to ignore armed militants and out-of-state instigators who want to contribute to our anguish,” Evers wrote.
Trump’s presence may also hinder recovery efforts as the visit would “require a massive re-direction” of resources when they are needed to keep the city safe, he said.
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, in an interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition on Sunday, also said it’d be best Trump stayed away.
“Our preference would have been for him not to be coming at this point in time,” he said. “All presidents are always welcome and campaign issues are always going on. But it would have been, I think, better had he waited to have for another time to come.”
Mandela Barnes, the lieutenant governor for Wisconsin, earlier Sunday voiced his opposition to Trump’s visit on Twitter, stating if he’s not coming to help the community heal then he should cancel his trip.
“There is too much good starting to happen in Kenosha,” he said. “The city was on fire and we need healing, not a barrel of gasoline rolling in.”
The White House announced Saturday that Trump would visit Kenosha to meet with law enforcement and “survey damage from recent riots.” Trump has deployed the National Guard to Kenosha due to the unrest.
Asked earlier that day if he planned to visit, Trump told reporters “probably” while praising the efforts of the National Guard to quell the unrest.
“Probably so,” he said. “We’ve had tremendous success, as you know. We were finally able to get the go-ahead from the local authorities to send in the National Guard. We sent in the National Guard, and within a few minutes of the Guard, everybody cleared out, and it became safe.”
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