Trump Sides with Kenosha Gunman, Refuses to Condemn Violence from His Supporters
On Monday, President Donald Trump supported a 17-year old charged with killing two people during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Trump sided with the accused gunman saying he was trying to get away and would have been killed by protestors if he had not opened fire.
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Today, Trump will visit Kenosha, which is the site of protests against police brutality and racism. The protests have been going on since Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times by police on August 23 and left paralyzed.
On the third night of protests, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old, shot three protesters with an assault rifle. Two of which lost their lives.
“He was trying to get away from them … And then he fell and then they very violently attacked him,” Trump explained at a briefing. “I guess he was in very big trouble … He probably would have been killed.”
Rittenhouse has been charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree homicide and one count of attempted homicide. His lawyer has stated that he has plans to argue self-defense.
The Republican president has been using law and order as the main theme of his re-election campaign. He refused to castigate violent acts by his supporters and railed against what he called rioting and anarchy carried out by “left-wing” protesters.
Former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent in the November 3 election, blamed the president of fueling violence with his rhetoric while urging that rioters and looters be prosecuted.
“Tonight, the president declined to rebuke violence. He wouldn’t even repudiate one of his supporters who is charged with murder because of his attacks on others. He is too weak, too scared of the hatred he has stirred to put an end to it,” Biden said in a statement.
Trump argued that violence would surge if Biden won and blamed the former vice president of surrendering to a left-wing mob. “In America, we will never surrender to mob rule, because if the mob rules, democracy is indeed dead,” Trump said.
The killing of Blake, 29, in front of three of his children in Kenosha, a substantially white city of about 100,000 people on Lake Michigan, has instigated a new wave of nationwide protests.
The summer of protests flamed up after video footage showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of a Black man, George Floyd, for about nine minutes. Floyd later died, and the since-fired officer has been charged with murder.
Kayleigh McEnany, White House spokeswoman told reporters that Trump planned to survey the damage in Kenosha and meet with business owners. She shrugged off calls by some state and local leaders for him to forgo the visit.
Trump said he would not meet with Blake’s family.