President Trump plans to visit Kenosha, Wis. on Tuesday, even though he isn’t welcome. The Hill reports that both the governor and the mayor have asked him not to come at this time, as the town is still reeling from the police shooting of Jacob Blake and the arrest of a rifle-toting 17-year-old Trump supporter Kyle Rittenhouse who is facing homicide and other charges in the deaths of two persons last week.
“I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state. I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers wrote.
…”Realistically, from our perspective, our preference would have been for him not to be coming at this point in time,” Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian (D) said on NPR’s “Weekend Edition.”
“All presidents are always welcome and campaign issues are always going on. But it would have been, I think, better had he waited to have for another time to come,” Mayor Antaramian added.
Their concern is well-founded, as Trump is not on a national healing tour. The New York Times described his weekend tweetstorm as “an especially intense barrage…embracing fringe conspiracy theories claiming that the coronavirus death toll has been exaggerated and that street protests are actually an organized coup d’état against him.”
In a concentrated predawn burst, the president posted or reposted 89 messages between 5:49 a.m. and 8:04 a.m. on Sunday on top of 18 the night before, many of them inflammatory comments or assertions about violent clashes in Portland, Ore., where a man wearing the hat of a far-right, pro-Trump group was shot and killed Saturday after a large group of Mr. Trump’s supporters traveled through the streets. He resumed on Sunday night.
In the blast of social media messages, Mr. Trump also embraced a call to imprison Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, threatened to send federal forces against demonstrators outside the White House, attacked CNN and NPR, embraced a supporter charged with murder, mocked his challenger, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and repeatedly assailed the mayor of Portland, even posting the mayor’s office telephone number so that supporters could call demanding his resignation.
The mayor of Portland responded appropriately by saying that Trump “has been perpetrating divisive and hateful language for four years — for him to now stand here and say that it’s unexpected and act as though he is shocked, is appalling to me.” He added, “I’d appreciate that either the president support us or stay the hell out of the way.”
With Trump, we’re never quite sure where the line is drawn between cynicism and insanity, so it’s not possible to know if he believes that “the real death toll from the coronavirus is only around 9,000 — not nearly 183,000,” or that “a well-funded network of anarchists” are trying to take him down by causing disturbances in the streets. What we do know is that Trump sent those messages out this past weekend to his 86.5 million Twitter followers. There’s no reason to believe that he’s headed to Kenosha to calm the place down. That’s clear from the fact that he “liked” a Tweet stating that “Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump.”
As a reminder, Rittenhouse traveled 30 miles from his home in Antioch, Illinois. He then confronted Black Lives Matter protesters with “a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle.” As a minor, it was a violation of Wisconsin law for him to brandish such a weapon in public. Following a confrontation in a parking lot, he’s charged with shooting and killing an unarmed Joseph Rosenbaum, who reportedly had thrown a plastic bag at him. When a group gathered in an effort to disarm and detain him, he fired more shots, wounding Gaige Grosskreutz and killing Anthony Huber.
Apparently, Trump considers this boy a model supporter. It’s no wonder that elected officials think Trump’s presence will exacerbate the fallout they are trying to contain. As the New York Times reported on Thursday, increasing tensions is quite obviously a key component of his reelection strategy.
Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s departing counselor, said on Thursday that Mr. Trump stood to benefit politically from the kind of unrest that erupted this week in Kenosha, Wis., after the police shooting of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake.
“The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order,” Ms. Conway said on “Fox & Friends.”
If someone was coming to your community to boost chaos and anarchy and vandalism, would you welcome them?