(The Center Square) – President Donald Trump spent most of his time in Kenosha Tuesday focusing on what ended the city’s violence last week, not what started it.
The president toured parts of the city that were burned to the ground in last week’s violent protests that turned into riots. Dozens of buildings were burned, as were hundreds of cars. There were also assaults. And there was a shooting that left two people dead and a third person wounded.
The president said a surge of National Guard troops finally brought the chaos to an end.
“The National Guard has been really amazing,” Trump said, adding “things began to change” the minute the troops arrived.
Just who sent the troops continues to be a point of contention in Kenosha.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has insisted that he deployed the Wisconsin National Guard and that he, not Trump, asked for out-of-state guard units to come to Kenosha as well.
The president on Tuesday said he offered Evers help, but the governor initially refused.
“I wish the governor would have accepted night one as opposed to night three,” the president said. But Trump did thank Evers for accepting the help when he did.
When Kenosha leaders last week first asked for 500 National Guard Troops, the governor sent 125. After three nights of violence, local leaders asked for 1,500 troops, and the governor sent 500.
Trump that day offered 2,000 troops. That’s when Gov. asked out-of-state troops to come to Kenosha.
The protests and riots began after the Aug. 22 shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake in the back by a Kenosha police officer. Blake, who had an active warrant out for his arrest at the time, was seen on video fighting off officers and moving to get into his car when the officer shot him. Kenosha police said he was armed with a knife. His attorney refuted that.
Family members say Blake is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting.
Wisconsin Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson reiterated the president’s point Tuesday.
“Local officials wanted help, President Trump offered help,” Johnson said. “That’s what made the difference here.”
President Trump said an influx of National Guard troops or law enforcement authorities is what is needed to stop the violence in cities across the country.
“Chicago could use a hand, New York could use a hand,” the president said. “You have to be decisive, you have to be tough, and you have to be willing to bring people in.”
Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.