President Trump has decided to move forward with plans to visit Kenosha Tuesday even as local officials have urged him to reconsider while the city continues to see protests and division following the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer.
"If I didn’t INSIST on having the National Guard activate and go into Kenosha, Wisconsin, there would be no Kenosha right now," the president tweeted early Monday. "Also, there would have been great death and injury. I want to thank Law Enforcement and the National Guard. I will see you on Tuesday!"
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers sent a letter to the president Sunday, sharing worries about what his visit would mean for Kenosha and the state.
"I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing," he said. "I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together."
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian also stated he felt the timing was wrong, and voiced similar concerns at a news conference.
"It just seemed to me and I think others that it would be better for us to be able to pull together, let the community get together and actually heal up the process of what's going on..." the mayor said. "So it would have been nice if it had waited a while a little longer down the road."
At a White House press briefing Monday evening, President Trump acknowledged Gov. Evers asked him to reconsider the visit, but gave the governor credit for accepting assistance from the National Guard, which he claimed help quell tensions in the city.
"Ultimately he said yes. As soon as he said yes, the problem ended," President Trump said. "But I have to see the people that did such a good job for me...We have tremendous support in the state of Wisconsin."
Trump's opponent for reelection, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his running mate, Kamala Harris, have accused Trump of rooting for violence amid unrest in Wisconsin.
"He views this as a political benefit," Biden said in an interview on MSNBC. "He’s rooting for more violence, not less. And it’s clear about that."
However, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany dismissed a question on whether President Trump is visiting Kenosha because Wisconsin is a battleground state.
"The president's showing up to see hurting Americans," she stated. "He goes to several states each and every week, and this is another one in a line of many."
Who will the president meet with?
The president confirmed Monday evening that he doesn't have plans to meet with the family of Jacob Blake, the 31-year-old Black man who was shot seven times by a police officer, prompting protests and outrage nationwide.
At a press briefing, the president said he talked to the family's pastor and decided not to meet with the family because "they wanted to have lawyers involved, and I thought that was inappropriate."
He called the family's pastor a "fine man" and added he may meet with the family in the future.
On Friday, President Trump broke his silence regarding Blake's shooting, but didn't say whether he believes the officer was justified.
"It was not a good sight," the president told reporters. "I didn’t like the sight of it certainly. And I think most people would agree with that."
The president will meet with members of local law enforcement and survey damage following unrest and riots, according to the White House.
When asked about specifics of the president's visit Monday, Mayor Antaramian refused to provide details.
The president's visit will take place as follows, per his schedule:
- 10:30 a.m. EDT - Trump departs the White House en route to Joint Base Andrews
- 10:55 a.m. - Trump arrives at Joint Base Andrews
- 11:05 a.m. - Trump departs Washington, D.C., en route to Waukegan, IL
- 11:55 a.m. CDT - Trump arrives at Waukegan National Airport
- 12:05 p.m. - Trump departs Waukegan, IL, en route to Kenosha, WI
- 12:35 p.m. - Trump arrives at property affected by recent riots in Kenosha, WI
- 12:40 p.m. - Trump surveys property affected by recent riots in Kenosha, WI
- 1 p.m. - Trump departs property affected by recent riots en route to Mary D. Bradford High School
- 1:10 p.m. - Trump arrives at Mary D. Bradford High School in Kenosha, WI
- 1:15 p.m. - Trump tours the Emergency Operations Center in Kenosha, WI
- 1:30 p.m. - Trump participates in a roundtable on Wisconsin Community Safety
- 2:20 p.m. - Trump departs Kenosha, WI, en route to Waukegan, IL
- 2:50 p.m. - Trump arrives at Waukegan National Airport
- 3 p.m. - Trump departs Waukegan, IL, en route to Washington, D.C.
- 5:40 p.m. EDT - Trump arrives at Joint Base Andrews
- 5:50 p.m. - Trump departs Joint Base Andrews en route to the White House
- 6:15 p.m. - Trump arrives at the White House
Protests and Gatherings
Black religious and community leaders are planning activities to draw people away from the areas where President Trump is expected to visit Tuesday afternoon.
"“We cannot be confronting Trump to fulfill his desire to turn [protesters] into a commercial, Rev. Jesse Jackson told NBC News Monday.
Another community leader said “we do not foresee ourselves protesting as we will not be the backdrop for his campaign.”
Church and community leaders are instead encouraging people to gather in the neighborhood where Blake was shot. NBC News reports there will be food, music and "community healing," which's Blake's mother has been calling for.
Organizers don't expect President Trump to visit the site of the shooting.
While the governor and mayor aren't on board, that's not the case for all local elected officials.
Seven Kenosha County Board supervisors wrote a letter to President Trump, encouraging him to move forward with his visit, the Kenosha News reported.
"Kenoshans are hurting and looking for leadership, and your leadership in this time of crisis is greatly appreciated by those devastated by the violence in Kenosha," the letter read in part.
Some residents told NBC 5 they were uncertain on whether the visit would benefit the city, but others have made up their mind.
"I think it's wonderful," said resident Amanda Kriske. "I think he is listening to the residents of Kenosha."