President Donald Trump heads to Kenosha today in a show of solidarity with law enforcement, little more than a week after a police officer shot a Black man in the back in an incident that was captured on video and beamed across the nation, prompting marches across the nation calling for racial justice.
Depending on who you talk to, the welcome mat is either being rolled out or up for the president in the lakefront city an hour’s drive north of Chicago.
“The White House has been humbled by the outreach of individuals from Kenosha who have welcomed the president’s visit,” Judd Deere, a spokesman for the president, wrote in an emailed statement to The Spin. But The Associated Press reports that Wisconsin’s Democratic governor sent a letter to the Republican president asking him to reconsider, writing “I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader who cut his teeth under the tutelage of Martin Luther King Jr., tells The Spin he’s traveling from Chicago to Kenosha today to meet with activists there about the impending presidential visit. His advice? Don’t march, just hold a prayer vigil at a park.
“We don’t need the president using these peaceful marches as a prop” that’s taken out of context “and used in one of his campaign ads,” Jackson tells The Spin.
The White House tells The Spin it’s an official visit — as opposed to a campaign stop. Nonetheless, he’s bringing his law-and-order message to a swing state that carried him to victory in 2016. He offered a preview today on Twitter: “I want to thank Law Enforcement and the National Guard. I will see you on Tuesday!”
A short time before that, he posted to social media — as he’s done before — “LAW & ORDER!”
Trump humbled — With controversy unfolding almost immediately after the weekend announcement that Trump would travel to Kenosha, the president’s media team issued this statement: “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,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in an email. “President Trump looks forward to visiting on Tuesday and helping this great city heal and rebuild.”
Kenosha leaders uneasy with Trump visit, aim to ensure safety: My Tribune colleagues have the story here.
Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden blasted the president, who has painted the former vice president as soft and crime and accused him of siding with looters who have turned up at otherwise peaceful protests: “Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting, it’s lawlessness, plain and simple,” Biden said. “And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change. It will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way.” The Associated Press has the story here.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who most recently has sparred with Trump over his efforts to blame leaders of Democrat-run cities for an uptick in violence as well as unrest that he’s conflated with protest marches, was asked during an unrelated news conference for her take.
“If I believed that he would come with a message of healing and unity, that would be one thing; but what we see from him over and over again — and particularly as part of his reelection bid — is to exploit tensions and division, and that’s the last thing that Kenosha needs, it’s the last thing that Wisconsin needs, and it’s the last thing that our region and our country need,” the mayor said during a news conference to talk about city finances.
The Rev. Jackson, who heads the venerable African American social justice organization Rainbow/PUSH, has already traveled to Kenosha once and is returning today to meet with activists, said “My concern is that the president is fueling the tension.” He said if the president was there in an act of “reconciliation” it would be different, but so far he’s backed law enforcement without speaking about the man who was shot by police or the man’s parents. And Jackson said the president has skirted questions about the killing of two protesters who were allegedly shot by a 17-year-old vigilante from Antioch, a Trump backer who was at a rally for the president earlier this summer.
Chicago passes 500 homicides, on track for one of the most violent years in decades: The Tribune’s Sophie Sherry and Jeremy Gorner have the details here.
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