President Trump is not welcome in Wisconsin, at least not if you’re asking Gov. Tony Evers.
Evers, a Democrat who has been critical of Trump, urged the president to reconsider traveling on Tuesday to Kenosha, where recent protests against police brutality have exploded into deadly riots in recent days.
“I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state,” Evers wrote in a letter to Trump. “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 wrote in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press.
Trump announced he would head to Kenosha to inspect the damage caused by riots. Several businesses have been vandalized and some buildings and multiple car lots burned during the unrest.
Trump will be meeting with law enforcement officers, White House spokesman Judd Deere announced.
“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,” Deere wrote in reply to Evers. “President Trump looks forward to visiting on Tuesday and helping this great city heal and rebuild.”
The protests in Kenosha, which followed several in bigger cities around the nation, started this week after 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times on Aug. 23, allegedly by Kenosha police Officer Rusten Sheskey. Video seen on social media shows Sheskey shooting at Blake as he reached into his car, where Wisconsin officials later said a knife was found. The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
“Well, I’m looking into it very strongly. I’ll be getting reports,” the president said in an interview in New Hampshire Friday. “It was not a good sight. I didn’t like the sight of it, certainly, and I think most people would agree with that.”
The shooting of Blake sparked days of demonstrations and riots that resulted in the deaths of two protesters last Tuesday. Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, is accused of fatally shooting two men with an AR-15-style rifle.
Earlier Sunday, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, also expressed concerns about Trump’s visit. “I don’t know how, given any of the previous statements that the president made, that he intends to come here to be helpful. And we absolutely don’t need that right now,” Barnes said in an interview with CNN.
Trump, who has denounced protesters as “thugs” while sharply defending police, has throughout the summer cast American cities under liberal leadership as under siege by violent and lawless anarchy. Protesters have rallied against police brutality and racial injustice in a series of events that began after the May 25 death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police. While many of the demonstrations have been peaceful, rioting and looting has broken out in Chicago, Seattle, Portland, New York and other cities, including Kenosha.
With about nine weeks until Election Day, conservatives see an aggressive “law and order” message as the best way for the president to turn voters against his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, and regain the support of suburban voters, particularly women.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.