President Donald Trump declared Monday he was defying Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers' plea to stay away from the state and is coming to Kenosha despite racial tensions and unrest. “If I didn’t INSIST on having the National Guard activate and go into Kenosha, Wisconsin, there would be no Kenosha right now,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Also, there would have been great death and injury. I want to thank Law Enforcement and the National Guard. I will see you on Tuesday!”
The president was responding to a letter Evers sent to the White House, appealing to Trump to cancel his trip.
“I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state,” the governor wrote. “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.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday Trump had no intention of staying away. “This president will go to Kenosha," she told Fox News. “He loves the people of Wisconsin, and he looks forward to speaking directly to them and unifying the state."
The city has been riven by protests, some of which turned violent, since the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black resident who was shot several times in the back by a white officer.
Trump has blamed rioting and looting on Democratic lawmakers including Evers. He also accused Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden of supporting anarchy, though Biden and other party members have condemned arson and looting.
The president as also praised armed civilians who journeyed to troubled areas, including Kenosha and Portland, Oregon.
A 17-year-old was charged last week with several criminal counts, including intentional homicide, for the fatal shootings of two protesters in Kenosha and the wounding of another.
On Saturday in Oregon, a caravan of about 600 vehicles packed with Trump supporters drove through Portland and encountered counterprotesters. After fighting between the two groups, a supporter of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer was fatally shot.
Trump and Portland mayor Ted Wheeler blamed each other Sunday for the violence in argument that erupted in real time.
The president called Wheeler a "fool." The Democrat, visibly mad, responded to the insult during a live press conference.
"That’s classic Trump," the mayor said. "Mr. President, how can you think that a comment like that, if you’re watching this, is in any way helpful? It’s an aggressive stance, it is not collaborative. I certainly reached out, I believe in a collaborative manner, by saying earlier that you need to do your part and I need to do my part and then we both need to be held accountable," Wheeler said.
Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson identified the shooting victim as Aaron "Jay" Danielson.
"We love Jay and he had such a huge heart. God bless him and the life he lived," Gibson said in a Facebook post.
Trump tweeted, "Rest in peace Jay!"