Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes said his state, the site of recent protests following the police shooting of a black man, did not need a visit from President Donald Trump to the sequel to his “inflammatory remarks” on the racial justice protests that have swept the United States in recent months.
Trump, who has taken a tough stance against the protests, will visit the town of Kenosha on Tuesday, where new protests erupted after police shot dead 29-year-old black man Jacob Blake seven times in the back last Sunday .
The incident, which happened in front of three of her children and was recorded on a cell phone, made the mostly white city of 100,000 people south of Milwaukee the latest flashpoint in a summer of protests in the whole country against police brutality and racism.
On Tuesday, amid continued protests in the city, two people were fatally shot by an armed civilian. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Illinois who had gone to protests armed with a semi-automatic rifle, was later arrested for the violence.
The protests also resulted in property damage, with the National Guard commander saying on Friday that more than 1,000 guardsmen had been deployed to help keep the peace in the city, and more were on their way.
Blake’s shooting came amid increased attention to racial justice in the United States following George Floyd’s death in custody in May.
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“They’ve centered a whole convention on creating more animosity and more division around what’s going on in Kenosha,” Barnes told CNN, referring to the Republican National Convention, which featured a recurring theme of the law and order which framed the ongoing protests as threatening the security of towns and suburbs of the country.
“So I don’t know how, given the president’s previous statements, that he intends to come here to be useful, and we absolutely don’t need it at the moment,” he added.
Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Karen Bass, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, predicted Trump’s visit to Kenosha would make matters worse.
“His visit has only one purpose and one purpose, and that is to shake things up,” the Democrat told CNN’s State of the Union program. “We are 66 days away from an election and I think it is a tragedy that we have a president who is doing all he can to fan the flames. “
The White House said on Saturday that Trump would visit the city to “meet with law enforcement and investigate the damage caused by the recent riots,” but did not say if the president plans to meet with Blake’s family .
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Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said this week that police confronted Blake when they were called to the home of a woman who reported that “her boyfriend was present” without permission. Officers then attempted to arrest him.
Kaul said efforts to subdue Blake with a Taser had failed and investigators later recovered a knife from the floor of the car that Blake was leaning over when he was shot.
The Kenosha Police Union on Friday defended the officers’ actions, claiming Blake was armed with a knife, fought the officers and had several chances to cooperate before they used lethal force.
Blake’s senior attorney, Ben Crump, said his client was not armed with a knife and was not provoking or threatening police. The witness who took the cell phone footage also said Blake did not appear to be holding a knife.
Lt. Gov. Barnes on Sunday also called on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to “take over” and present a clear plan to tackle racial inequality.