U.S. President Donald Trump walked through parts of Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday that were damaged last week in civil unrest that erupted after a white police officer shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, seven times in the back as officers tried to arrest him.
“You have to be decisive, and you have to be tough, and you have to be strong, and you have to be willing to bring people in” to quell violence, the U.S. leader said in an exchange with law enforcement officers.
Later, at a sit-down discussion with law enforcement officials, Trump said, “You have anarchists and you have the looters and you have the rioters. You have all types. You have agitators.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate opposing Trump in the November election, has criticized Trump for failing to condemn all violence, including a shooter accused of killing two people and wounding another during protests against Blake’s shooting.
Watch: Trump, Biden Clash Over Violent Protests
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Biden’s Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said Trump’s trip to Kenosha featured only “self-centered divisiveness accompanied by zero solutions.”
“Trump failed once again to meet the moment, refusing to utter the words that Wisconsinites and Americans across the country needed to hear today from the president: a condemnation of violence of all kinds, no matter who commits it,” Bedingfield said in a late Tuesday statement.
Trump on Tuesday attacked “reckless, far-left politicians,” adding, “We must give far greater support to our law enforcement.”
Trump said that in Kenosha, “Violent mobs demolished or damaged at least 25 businesses, burned down public buildings and threw bricks at police officers, which your police officers won’t stand for.”
“And they didn’t stand for it,” Trump said. “These are not acts of peaceful protests but really domestic terror.”
Biden this week accused Trump of “rooting for chaos and violence” during the election season because he sees it as “a political lifeline.” Bedingfield said the president did not address the multiple issues people in Kenosha and elsewhere in the country are dealing with right now.
“Kenosha is in pain, not only from the tragedy of senseless violence, but from the immense and avoidable suffering wrought by the Trump administration’s failed and reckless management of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic devastation that has followed,” Bedingfield said. “We didn’t hear a word about a plan to finally control this crisis, which has taken the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across the country and throughout the state of Wisconsin.”
Trump visited Kenosha, a 100,000-resident city on the shores of Lake Michigan, against the wishes of the city’s mayor and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, who said it was too soon as police continue their investigation of the shooting of Blake on August 23. Family members say he was left partially paralyzed.
Trump did not meet with Blake’s family during his visit.
Evers, a Democrat, sent state National Guard troops to Kenosha and later accepted a White House offer of more federal law enforcement assistance.
Authorities have charged 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, a white teenage vigilante, with five felonies in connection with the shootings of three people at August 25 protests. Rittenhouse claimed to be in Kenosha in order to protect businesses.