KENOSHA (AP) – Donald Trump went to the epicenter of the most recent racial injustice outbreak. He sided with law enforcement, blaming “domestic terrorism” for the violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and made no reference to the unrest and protests’ underlying cause: another black man being shot by police.
Trump declared the violence “un-American”. He did not mention Jacob Blake, who was shot last week in Kenosha.
Shortly after arriving in the city – a visit he made despite objections from state and local leaders – Trump toured the burned remains of a besieged block by violence and fire. With the smell of smoke still in the air, he spoke to the owners of a centuries-old store that had been destroyed and continued to link the violence to the Democrats, holding those in charge of Kenosha and Wisconsin accountable and issuing apocalyptic warnings if their opponents reach the White House.
“These are not acts of peaceful protest, but acts of domestic terrorism,” Trump said. He also criticized the Democrats for not immediately accepting his offer of federal aid, saying that “they just don’t want us to come here. These governors don’t want to call, and neither do the mayors. They have to ask”.
The city has been the scene of protests since the August 23 incident, during which Blake was shot seven times in the back by police as he was getting into a car when officers tried to arrest him. The protests have been concentrated in a small area of Kenosha. While there were more than 30 fires on the first three nights, the situation has since calmed down.
Trump’s caravan passed dozens of protesters, some holding American flags in support of the president, while others booed him and carried signs reading “Black Lives Matter. A huge police presence, reinforced by several armored vehicles, and barricades were set up along several of the city’s main avenues to keep spectators away from the presidential motorcade’s vehicles.
After offering federal resources to help rebuild the city, Trump visited a high school transformed into a law enforcement command post. He said he tried to call Blake’s mother, but chose not to after the family asked for a lawyer to listen in on the conversation. The only words in recognition of African Americans’ suffering came from a pastor who attended the law enforcement roundtable.
Domestic Terror in the Age of Trump
A database of domestic terror incidents shows attacks by far-right extremists have become far more lethal since Donald Trump became president.
Over the last years since, that picture has come into focus, as far-right domestic terror has become far more deadly. That threat exploded into public view in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, the site of Unite the Right, a violent ingathering of far-right extremists.
Hundreds of them, from across the country, marched to the University of Virginia’s campus with tiki torches aloft, chanting, “Jews will not replace us!” The next day, after an eruption of violent melees, a young neo-Nazi drove his car at full speed into a crowd of peaceful counterprotesters, maiming nearly two dozen and killing a 32-year-old woman named Heather Heyer.
The incident had an immediate impact on the public perception of terrorism – including, crucially, among law enforcement and elected officials. It had become clear that a terrorist could look like the White man next door. Robert Bowers’ alleged attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh a year later, left 11 dead and six injured, only cemented that shift.
Over and over, Donald Trump has dismissed the outrage over police killings on African Americans , saying that “more white people are killed by police than Black people”. Trump stated in an interview with CBS News in July 2020.
To this day, Donald Trump blames the “left-wing” for the current civil unrest.