KENOSHA, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — In the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., and the ensuing civil unrest last week, President Trump is expected to visit the city on Tuesday.
As of Monday evening, few specific details were available about the visit, which the White House announced over the weekend. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told CNN that the president planned to meet with local law enforcement and business owners, but had no plans to meet with the family of 29-year-old Blake, who remains hospitalized.
At a Monday press briefing, Trump said he had spoken with the family’s pastor and gave his regards, but that the family had asked to have lawyers involved in the meeting, which he thought was “inappropriate.” Otherwise, though, he said he’d be meeting with “numerous people.”
“I have to see the people that did such a good job for me,” Trump said.
The visit has already stirred up some controversy as Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian both discouraged Trump – who has criticized local leaders’ response to protests – from coming.
Evers sent a letter to the president on Sunday asking him to reconsider his plans. In the letter, the governor expresses concern that the visit will be divisive to a community in the process of rebuilding and will also divert law enforcement resources.
“I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing,” Evers writes. “I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.”
And at a Monday press conference with Kenosha officials, Antaramian said that while he generally welcomes visits from presidents and candidates, in this case he feels “the timing is wrong.”
Seven supervisors from the Kenosha County Board sent their own letter of support to the president, asking him not to cancel the trip. In the letter, they say that federal assistance was a major relief to the people of Kenosha.
“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,” they write.
Trump took to Twitter on Monday to confirm that the visit was still on and say that without his push to bring in the National Guard, “there would be no Kenosha right now.”
At Monday’s press conference, though, Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser said this was a false statement.
“Kenosha is a strong community and we were going to come back regardless,” he said.
The Guard has actually been on the ground in Kenosha since the second night of protests last Monday, according to Adjutant Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, who commands the Wisconsin National Guard. They deployed at the request of local leaders and with the authorization of the governor, in the standard process which does not involve the federal government.
Other federal agencies – including the FBI, U.S. Marshals, and the ATF – have also been supporting the local law enforcement presence in Kenosha.
Protests have continued in Kenosha, but have generally been peaceful in recent days, county officials said Monday. Knapp said the National Guard’s mission — which focuses on protecting public safety and the right to peaceful protest — wouldn’t change with the president’s visit, and that the majority of the security will be taken over by local law enforcement and state troopers.
Kenosha residents reported mixed feelings about the president’s visit. At least one protest is already being planned for Trump’s visit, as several groups, including Refuse Fascism Chicago and Black Lives Matter Lake County, have announced plans to gather outside the Kenosha Municipal Building.
Kenosha County has extended its emergency curfew through Tuesday night, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
It’s “quite an operation” to host a presidential visit, and local law enforcement are working hard to plan for it, Sheriff David Beth said at Monday’s press conference.
“The president’s going to be quite safe here. That’s our goal,” Beth said.