Donald Trump visits city rocked by anti-police brutality protests

With the scent of smoke still in the air, Trump speaks to the owners of a store that had been destroyed

A demonstrator, left, and a supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, right, engage in verbal arguments near Civic Center Park in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. Donald Trump lauded police and National Guard members in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, where the shooting of a Black man by police last month has reignited national protests against racial inequality and street violence the president has sought to blame on Democrats. Photographer: Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump stood at the centre of the latest eruption over racial injustice on Tuesday and came down squarely on the side of law enforcement.

Mr Trump blamed “domestic terror” for the violence in Kenosha, a small city in Wisconsin, and did not mention the underlying cause of anger and protests – the shooting of a black man by police.

Jacob Blake was left paralysed after being shot in the back seven times by an officer last week in Kenosha, but the president did declare the violence “anti-American”.

Soon after arriving in the city, a visit made despite objections by state and local leaders, Mr Trump toured the charred remains of a block besieged by violence and fire.

A resident inspects burned out cars at a used car dealership in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. Donald Trump lauded police and National Guard members in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, where the shooting of a Black man by police last month has reignited national protests against racial inequality and street violence the president has sought to blame on Democrats. Photographer: Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg

With the scent of smoke still in the air, he spoke to the owners of a store that had been destroyed and continued to link the violence to the Democrats.

Mr Trump blamed those in charge of Kenosha and Wisconsin and gave warnings of what would happen under a Democratic government.

“These are not acts of peaceful protest but, really, domestic terror,” he said.

Mr Trump condemned Democratic officials for not immediately accepting his offer to send federal law enforcement.

“They just don’t want us to come,” he said.

The city has been the scene of protests since the August 23 shooting of Mr Blake, who was trying to get into a car while police sought to arrest him.

Protests have been concentrated in a small area of Kenosha.

There were more than 30 fires set in the first three nights but the situation has since calmed.

Mr Trump’s motorcade passed throngs of demonstrators, some holding US flags in support of the president, others jeering while carrying signs that read Black Lives Matter.

The area was secured with a huge police presence, complete with several armoured vehicles, and barricades were set up along several of the city’s major streets to keep onlookers at a distance.

Offering federal resources to help rebuild the city, Mr Trump toured a high school that had been turned into a heavily fortified law enforcement command post.

He repeatedly avoided speaking of structural racism in the nation or its police departments, instead blasting what he saw as anti-police speech.

Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden hit back, speaking to donors on a fund-raising call after Mr Trump left Kenosha.

“Donald Trump has failed to protect America. So now he’s trying to scare the hell out of America,” Mr Biden said.

“Violence isn’t a problem in Donald Trump’s eyes. It’s a political strategy.

“The vast majority of cops are honourable, decent and real. But the idea that he wouldn’t even acknowledge the problem – and white nationalists are raising their heads all across the country."

Mr Blake’s family held a Tuesday “community celebration” at a distance from Mr Trump’s visit.

“We don’t need more pain and division from a president set on advancing his campaign at the expense of our city,” said Justin Blake, an uncle.

“We need justice and relief for our vibrant community.”

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS