Washington, Aug 31 (efe-epa).- Wisconsin’s governor and the mayor of Kenosha, where a week of unrest following the police-involved shooting of an African-American man earlier this month has left two dead, urged President Donald Trump not to pay a visit.
But despite the calls by Gov. Tony Evers and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, Trump still plans to visit that city on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan on Tuesday to meet with local law enforcement and “survey damage from recent riots,” a White House spokesman said over the weekend.
Meanwhile, 3,200 kilometers (about 2,000 miles) to the west, in Portland, Oregon, a man died of a gunshot to the chest after a clash between Trump supporters and members of the Black Lives Matter movement on Saturday night.
Protests and disturbances have been a daily occurrence in the United States since an African-American man, George Floyd, died on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes.
Trump has been sending out tweets calling for “law and order” ahead of his re-election bid on Nov. 3, while his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, accuses the head of state of cheering on the violence for political purposes.
Evers, who like Antaramian is a Democrat, sent a letter to Trump on Sunday urging him to “respectfully reconsider” his visit to Kenosha, where a 29-year-old African-American man, Jacob Blake, was shot in the back seven times by an officer during an arrest attempt on Aug. 23. Blake’s father said the shooting had left his son paralyzed from the waist down.
Video footage of the incident showed Blake reaching into his vehicle, where his three children were sitting in the backseat. According to the Kenosha police union, he had a knife and had fought with officers and failed to heed their orders.
In the unrest stemming from that incident, a white 17-year-old, Kyle Rittenhouse, fatally shot two protesters and wounded a third. The attorney for Rittenhouse, who has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide and faces a potential mandatory life sentence, says his client acted in self-defense after being attacked with what was “clearly lethal force.”
In his letter to Trump, Evers wrote that he is concerned the president’s presence “will only hinder our healing” and “delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.”
For his part, Antaramian said in a statement Sunday that “while presidents are always welcome to come to this great city, this is not the best time for a visit.”
“We are hurting today and we are focused on healing, coming together as a community and rebuilding. There is a lot of listening we need to do in Kenosha and I worry that a visit from the president will delay this important work,” he added.
Separately, the Portland Police Bureau is investigating an incident on Saturday night that left one person dead.
That law-enforcement agency has not provided details about the victim, although video footage uploaded to Twitter indicates he was white man with a baseball cap with the insignia of Portland-based right-wing group Patriot Prayer, whose members have clashed in the past with protesters. EFE-EPA