President Donald Trump will discuss civil unrest with the government’s top law enforcement officials on Monday, according to a White House official -- the day before he visits a Wisconsin city roiled by protests, against the wishes of the state’s governor.
Trump plans to travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday, where two people were killed last week during protests against the police-involved shooting of a 29-year-old Black man. An Illinois teenager who expressed support for Trump on social media has been charged with murder in the two deaths.
The president will meet with Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Monday ahead of the trip. Federal law enforcement personnel were deployed in Portland, Oregon, last month to try to suppress protests there, but Democratic state and city officials say the agents only heightened violence in the city’s streets and demanded they leave.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of the Homeland Security department, said Monday on Fox News that the agency’s personnel are ready “to move on a moment’s notice.”
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers wrote Trump on Sunday to ask him to reconsider the visit, expressing concern that the president -- who has frequently criticized people protesting police brutality as rioters -- would exacerbate tensions.
“I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing,” Evers wrote in a letter to Trump. “I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.”
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump would proceed with his trip.
“The White House has been humbled by the outreach of individuals from Kenosha who have welcomed the president’s visit and are longing for leadership to support local law enforcement and businesses that have been vandalized,” Deere said. “President Trump looks forward to visiting on Tuesday and helping this great city heal and rebuild.”
Trump has demanded “law and order” in the U.S. amid continuing protests against police brutality and racial injustice and inequality that have followed the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by Minneapolis police in May.
The president has criticized Democratic governors and mayors who he argues have not done enough to crack down when protests turn violent, and has called on them to allow the deployment of National Guard in their cities.
On Saturday, a man affiliated with a right-wing group was shot and killed as supporters of the president staged a caravan through downtown Portland – which has seen nightly protests since Floyd’s death – and clashed with demonstrators.
Cuccinelli said that an “augmented number” of federal agents remain in Portland.
© Copyright 2021 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.