United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday stoked another controversy when he visited violence-hit Kenosha city in Wisconsin, and claimed that “domestic terror” was responsible for the racial violence and protests there, AP reported. Trump also alleged that Democratic Party leaders had enabled the violence.
Violence had erupted in Kenosha last week over the attack on an unarmed African-American man, Jacob Blake, by the police. In a video footage shared on social media, three officers were seen pointing their weapons at Blake as he walked around a parked car. As he opened the door and leaned into the car, an officer grabbed his shirt and fired. The officers fired several shots – seven, according to the man’s father. Blake is seriously injured and his family says he would need a “miracle” to be able to walk again.
Trump on Tuesday did not offer any explanation for the protests, and did not refer to Blake’s shooting. Trump examined the charred remains of a block destroyed by arson. He also spoke with owners of a century-old factory that had been destroyed. Trump’s motorcade, including several armed vehicles, passed through crowds lining the streets, some holding American flags and others jeering at him.
“These are not acts of peaceful protest but, really, domestic terror,” Trump said. “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.”
Trump also took credit for deploying the National Guard to quell the protests. Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s governor, had pleaded with Trump to stay away from Kenosha, telling him in a letter that his presence would further exacerbate the situation.
Trump also did not visit Blake or his family, Reuters reported. Blake has been left paralysed from the waist down following the attack. However, the president met with Blake’s mother’s pastors.
“To stop the political violence, we must also confront the radical ideology...We have to condemn the dangerous anti-police rhetoric,” Trump told the press. He claimed that without his help, “Kenosha would have burned to the ground”. The president also pledged $1 million (Rs 7.36 crore) in federal support to Kenosha’s law enforcement.
On August 26, a 17-year-old Trump supporter allegedly shot dead two persons and injured one near a gas station in Kenosha, during raucous protests against the attack on Blake. However, Trump refused to condemn the teenager, and also declined to condemn violence from his white supporters.
In August, buildings and trucks had been burned down in Kenosha. More than 100 members of the Wisconsin National Guard have been deployed in the city. There were also several reports of armed robberies.
The US has been witnessing massive anti-racism protests since May, following the death of George Floyd. On May 25, Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed African-American man, was killed after a white former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers involved in Floyd’s death – J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – were also charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. Another African-American man named Rayshard Brooks was shot dead by the police in June.