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Despite requests to stay away, Trump visited the Wisconsin town Tuesday not to console the family of Jacob Blake but to express support for law enforecement and business owners amidst social unrest.
Joined by Attorney General William Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, Trump chose to appeal to his base of white supporters with a "law and order" message in a crucial swing state he just nearly won in 2016.
Instead of visiting Blake, a 29 year-old Black man paralyzed from the waist down after a White police officer shot him seven times in the back on August 23, Trump ignored statements by both Wisconsin governor Tony Evers and Kenosha mayor John Antaramian by visiting small businesses burned and looted by protestors and pledging further assistance for law enforecement agencies.
The president pledged $1 million in federal support to Kenosha law enforcement, $4 million for small businesses, and $42 million for public safety statewide, constrasting with leftist demands to "defund the police."
Kenosha has become one of many cities where anti-racist protestors have clashed with Trump supporters who have stormed protest sites, often armed, vowing to protect private property, usually with the support of local law enforcement and the National Guard.
Trump is in Kenosha now. So the neighborhood where Blake was shot is holding an event to counter that, to keep the focus on Blake. Faith leaders also here. After some speeches, it's now a block party, with food, music, voter registration, and a Black Panther themed bounce house. pic.twitter.com/o5ACwcIkYx
With elections just two months away, and as a means to distract from the more than 180,000 U.S. deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump has tried to link the mostly peaceful nationwide protests against police brutality since May 25 to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, claiming his presidency would create further chaos in the streets, whereas Biden has stated that Trump himself has been stoking the violence with his divisive rhetoric.
Taking credit for restoring peace in Kenosha, Trump has militarized the city by sending in 200 federal law enforcement officials, and provoked further tension by defending his white 17 year-old supporter, Kyle Rittenhouse, who faces six criminal counts for killing two protestors and wounding another with a semi-automatic rifle on August 25.