Trump decries Kenosha violence as ‘domestic terror’
KENOSHA, Wis. (WKBT) — During a visit to the epicenter of the most recent violent clashes over racial injustice Tuesday, President Donald Trump decried “domestic terror” as the cause of clashes in Kenosha.
The president, whose visit came despite Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ request that he stay away from Kenosha to avoid further inflammation, did not mention what sparked the protests. Violent clashes and some peaceful demonstrations have occurred daily since Aug. 23, when a police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back while holding onto his shirt.
Evers had deployed the National Guard to quell demonstrations, although Trump tried to take credit for both sending in the Guard and calming tensions.
Trump insisted that the nation could see more violence if Democratic rival Joe Biden is elected in November.
As Trump’s motorcade passed through the city to survey damage and attend a roundtable meeting with government officials and members of law enforcement, a few hundred Trump supporters and detractors congregated at a city center intersection in Kenosha. They squared off, trading shouts and taunts, but there were no reports of violence.
Some Kenosha residents had feared that Trump’s visit Tuesday would prompt more violence.
Tension did rise as Trump’s motorcade rolled by, with his fans applauding and cheering, while the others booed and cursed. But crowd sizes were modest and tempers relatively restrained.
At least two people carried pistols in holsters, telling those around them they were Trump supporters and had open-carry permits.
Much of the crowd had dispersed by mid-afternoon. A few motorcyclists remained, with flags supporting Trump, and a booth nearby sold T-shirts supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Monday, Trump defended 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of fatally shooting two Kenosha demonstrators with a semiautomatic rifle after traveling there from his home in Illinois on Aug. 25.
Witnesses’ cellphone videos show Rittenhouse with groups of right-wing activists who have said they went to Kenosha to protect property against rioting.
Rittenhouse also was filmed running away from the scene of a shooting and later fleeing protesters. Rittenhouse falls as he runs away from demonstrators who accused him of the earlier shooting.
He then fires his gun at some of his pursuers from the ground. Later, he walks toward several police cars, his hands in the air, but officers do not stop him.
“That was an interesting situation. You saw the same tape as I saw, and he was trying to get away from them I guess it looks like,” Trump said during a White House news conference.
“He fell and then they very violently attacked him and it was something that we’re looking at right now and it’s under investigation,” Trump said. “But I guess he was in very big trouble … he probably would have been killed.”
Trump is offering himself as the “law and order” candidate and leader best positioned to keep Americans safe. Biden accused Trump Monday of causing divisions that have spurred violence and distancing himself from radical forces involved in altercations.
The Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating Blake’s shooting, along with the FBI, the Wisconsin State Patrol and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office.
Police say Blake, a 29-year-old Black whose family says he is paralyzed, was reaching for a knife in his car when officer Rusten Sheskey shot him
Sheskey and other officers involved are on administrative leave.
The DCI issued a report Tuesday saying that it, along with the FBI, have completed the following actions as part of the investigation:
• Conducted 88 witness interviews
• Collected 102 evidence items
• Downloaded 28 videos for review
• Issued four search warrants
• And dedicated more than 600 hours working on this case as of Saturday.
The DCI is continuing to review evidence and will turn over investigative reports to a prosecutor.
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