WASHINGTON – Democrats have said Donald Trump should not visit the town of Wisconsin where protests erupted last week after a black man was shot dead by a white police officer on the back, and the Republican president said “power” was the only way to deal with the unrest.
The August 22 shooting of Jacob Blake in front of his three children has transformed Kenosha, the most white town in the south of Milwaukee, into the latest bombing of U.S. protests. Against police brutality and racism ahead of Trump’s call for re-election in November.
Trump has struggled to resist apartheid protests and the White House has said it will visit the city of Midwestern on Tuesday, expressing concern to Democrats that this could escalate the conflict.
Critics have accused Trump, who is facing former Democratic Alliance vice-president Joe Biden in the November 3 election, of seeking to escalate violence with heated remarks, and the president has repeatedly called tweets “law and order.”
In a statement on Sunday, Biden accused Trump of “inciting reckless violence.”
Republicans accuse Democratic mayors and state officials of failing to control cities that have been rocked by protests that have seen violence, arson and vandalism.
U.S. Attorney Karen Bass, a Democrat who is chairing the Congress of the Black Black Caucus, said Trump’s trip to Kenosha would only escalate tensions.
Anger over Blake’s shooting sparked a three-night riot in Kenosha, including clashes between anti-apartheid protesters and armed members of the army. On Tuesday, a white man with a shotgun fired at three protesters, killing two of them.
The 17-year-old suspect, Kyle Rittenhouse, faces six criminal charges, including first-degree murder, in connection with the incident, which was filmed in several witness videos.
His lawyers say he defended himself after visiting Kenosha from his home about 30 miles [50 km] from Antioch, Illinois, to help protect businesses during the crisis. They called his prosecutor’s office “a reversible force in the spirit of divisiveness and destruction in this country.”
Rittenhouse also received support from some right-wing commentators who praised the former YMCA savior as a hero who sought to help law enforcement.
Another flashpoint was in Portland, Oregon, where a man was shot dead on Saturday after three months of night protests since the death of George Floyd on May 25 in a Minneapolis police cell.
The shooting in Portland came after a large number of Trump supporters drove into a downtown area where there were clashes with protesters, according to videos posted on social media. Police have urged members of the public to let detectives go about their business before making a decision.
Trump sent several tweets and retweets over the weekend criticizing the mayor of the Democratic Republic of Portland, Ted Wheeler, and urged him to enlist the help of state lawmakers.
“The people of Portland, like all other cities and parts of our vast country, want Law & Order,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “The only way you can stop the violence in the high crime rate in the cities is by force!”
Biden defended the peaceful protest, calling for justice, but repeatedly called for an end to the violence. In a statement Sunday, he called the Portland violence “unacceptable”.
Asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” whether Trump’s social media platforms are exacerbating tensions, Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said “no.” Pressured that local law enforcement should crack down on Trump-sponsored violence as well as anti-apartheid protests, Wolf said he wanted them to “face any acts of violence.”