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UPDATE: President Trump to visit Kenosha this week, Gov. Evers asks to reconsider visit

It is not yet known if the president will meet with Jacob Blake’s family
Published: Aug. 30, 2020 at 8:56 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to reconsider visiting Kenosha this week.

In his letter, Evers wrote in part that “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.”

The letter went on to say that Evers is “concerned that an in-person visit from you will require a massive re-direction of these resources to support your visit at a time when it is critical that we continue to remain focused on keeping the people of Kenosha safe and supporting the community’s response.”

President Trump announced over the weekend that he will visit Kenosha on Tuesday this week after praising the National Guard for their help in calming the unrest in the area, after the shooting of Jacob Blake by police.

The White House said the president would be meeting with law enforcement and examining the damage from protests that became violent in the city during the trip.

“We’ve had tremendous success as you know. We were finally able to get the go ahead from the local authorities to send in the National Guard. Send in the National Guard, within a few minutes of the guard, everybody cleared out and it became safe,” said President Trump.

On Monday morning Trump tweeted, “I will see you on Tuesday!”

Gov. Evers had activated the Wisconsin National Guard to respond to Kenosha well before the president’s involvement. The governor called up the state troops on Monday, the day after the Jacob Blake shooting. Evers issued a state of emergency for the city. Some federal officials were there prior to the president’s announcement Wednesday that Gov. Evers had accepted his offer of federal assistance.

On Tuesday night, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch, Ill. opened fire on three people in Kenosha, killing two of them, according to prosecutors. He’s charged with homicide and attempted homicide. Protests were mostly peaceful after that night of deadly violence.

Some members of the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors have written a letter to President Trump asking him to not cancel plans to come to 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,” reads the letter.

It is not yet known if the president plans to meet with Jacob Blake’s family.

The full letter from Evers’ office can be found below:

August 30, 2020

Dear President Trump:

I understand yesterday you indicated you would be visiting Kenosha, and according to pool reports last night, that you intend to visit Kenosha this Tuesday. I write today to respectfully ask you to reconsider.

These past few months, from managing a pandemic to facing entrenched racial disparities and inequities, our state—like so many others—has faced unimaginable challenges. But this past week has been particularly difficult. Kenosha and communities across Wisconsin are enduring extraordinary grief, grappling with a Black man being shot seven times and the loss of two additional lives on Tuesday night at the hands of an out-of-state armed militant.

When I visited Kenosha last week, what I saw was a community working to deal with the trauma and pain of these events and extreme loss. They are exhausted and heartbroken with the division that has ripped apart their community, but they are also already working to rebuild, together, and support each other in the face of adversity.

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.

It is our job as elected officials to lead by example and to be a calming presence for the people we know are hurting, mourning, and trying to cope with trauma. Now is not the time for divisiveness. Now is not the time for elected officials to ignore armed militants and out-of-state instigators who want to contribute to our anguish.

Moreover, as the Kenosha community continues their recovery efforts, I am likewise concerned that an in-person visit from you will require a massive re-direction of these resources to support your visit at a time when it is critical that we continue to remain focused on keeping the people of Kenosha safe and supporting the community’s response.

Our first responders have been working around the clock since Sunday evening. To date, and contrary to yours and others’ misinformation, I have continued to stress that protests need to be peaceful and that we must come together to address the significant challenges that we face, and the State of Wisconsin has fulfilled every request for support we have received from the City of Kenosha and Kenosha County leaders. Early Monday morning, Kenosha County requested National Guard assistance and 125 Wisconsin National Guard men and women were on the ground by Monday evening, 250 members on Tuesday evening, 500 members on Wednesday evening, and we have continued to increase their presence with additional National Guard support from Arizona, Michigan, and Alabama. Likewise, Wisconsin Emergency Management has been working with local law enforcement non-stop and beginning Sunday night through the last week, we have had hundreds of police officers from across the region and from across the state in Kenosha to assist the Kenosha Police Department and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department.

As governor, I will continue to support the Kenosha community as well as the people across our state who are demanding police accountability and transparency reform. This work cannot wait, which is why I have called the Wisconsin legislature to come to work on Monday and take up a policing accountability and transparency reform package. I would welcome your support of these initiatives.

For the reasons above, I urge you to revisit your decision to visit Kenosha on Tuesday. Thank you for your time and your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Tony Evers

Governor

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