By Laura Barros
Washington, Sep 1 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Tuesday confirmed his hard line against the violent protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the violence erupted after a white police officer shot an African American man seven times in the back, paralyzing him.
The president blamed what he called the “radical left” and “domestic terror” for the “destruction” and violence that occurred there in the wake of that shooting.
The president arrived in the city that has been the scene of protests after Jacob Blake was shot, ignoring the requests of the local mayor, Democrat John Antaramian, and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, also a Democrat, who had asked him to stay away so as not to incite further violence.
Evers, who had deployed the National Guard to dampen demonstrations after the Blake shooting, had called on Trump to stay away, fearing that local tensions would be further aggravated by his presence and whatever comments he might make.
Trump, however, claimed credit for bringing calm to the city by deploying the National Guard, saying that “Violence has stopped since the time the National Guard came – literally when they set their foot on this location it stopped.”
The president also said that he had come to Kenosha and to Wisconsin to show his support for both the city and the state. Trump met with local authorities, lawmakers and businessmen, among others, after being taken on a tour of some of the areas affected by the demonstrations, in which two people have died.
Trump, who suggested that the protests were not peaceful and called it true “domestic terrorism,” defended the deployment of the National Guard and some 200 federal agents to the Wisconsin city.
“These are not acts of peaceful protest but, really, domestic terror,” Trump said, adding that “You went through hell just a few days ago, but I feel so safe. … We’re safe because of law enforcement.”
Trump, who in November will go up against former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden in the presidential election, blamed the violence on “anti-police and anti-American riots,” as well as the policies of the “radical left” that – he said – keep pushing the message that the US and the forces of order are “oppressive and racist.”
He noted that when US troops were sent to Chicago to quell violence there they made “more than 1,000 arrests” in the first month.
Meanwhile, US Attorney General William Barr – who accompanied the president – put forth the hypothesis that “violent instigators” are behind the Kenosha protests, claiming to have received information that these people were coming from the states of California and Washington, as well as from the city of Chicago, which have also experienced protests.
He said that the violence that erupted after the Blake shooting is not a legitimate response to a police shooting.
Trump, who before making his trip was using adjectives like “stupid” to refer to the Kenosha mayor, did not meet with the Blake family after his arrival and, when asked about that matter, said that he felt “terribly for anybody who goes through that.”
Both the president and the attorney general said that the shooting is “under investigation.”
In an attempt to reduce local tensions, Trump suggested that certain “bad apples” were involved in inciting some of the violence.
He also said that the local police are under great pressure” and, even though an officer might have 15 years of experience and an impeccable record, suddenly he might be called on to make a split-second life-or-death decision.
In answer to a question about whether he feels that there is systemic racism directed against minorities in enforcing the law, Trump said that he did not think so and defended the work being done by police across the country.
Trump’s presence motivated his supporters and some of his critics to turn out and stage their own demonstrations in Kenosha’s downtown area, where Trump toured the ruins of several local businesses that had been destroyed, according to local media reports.
The New York Times emphasized that the street corner where Blake was shot was one of the areas where people demanding justice for what happened to him gathered.