Trump to visit Wisconsin city where police shot black man in back

1,000 people join mile-long march in Kenosha chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’

People march in support of Jacob Blake and his family to the Kenosha County Courthouse on Saturday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Photograph:  Scott Olson/Getty Images

People march in support of Jacob Blake and his family to the Kenosha County Courthouse on Saturday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

 

US president Donald Trump on Tuesday will visit Kenosha, Wisconsin, the city that has seen unrest since a white police officer shot a black man in the back, a White House official told reporters on Saturday.

Mr Trump will meet law enforcement officials and assess damage in the city where the officer shot Jacob Blake, who is paralysed from the waist down and remains in hospital, the official said. A 17-year-old boy is being held by authorities in Kenosha on suspicion of shooting three people who were protesting the shooting of Blake. Two of those people died.

Meanwhile about 1,000 people joined a mile-long march in Kenosha on Saturday, chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace”.

Jacob Blake snr, father of the 29-year-old man whose shooting by a police officer last Sunday sparked the unrest, called on protesters to refrain from looting and vandalism, which had overshadowed peaceful protests before a tense calm set in the past three nights.

“Good people of this city understand. If we tear it up we have nothing,” he told a gathering at a park that was the hub of protests in support of his son. “Stop it. Show ‘em for one night we don’t have to tear up nothing.”

Latest flashpoint

The shooting of Mr Blake, in front of three of his children, turned the mostly white city of 100,000 people south of Milwaukee into the latest flashpoint in a summer of US-wide demonstrations against police brutality and racism.

Mr Blake survived but was left badly wounded and paralysed from the waist down. He will likely participate via video from his hospital room in a court hearing next week about criminal charges that predated the shooting, his lawyer told Reuters on Saturday, adding he would plead not guilty.

Anger at Mr Blake’s shooting, captured on video that went viral, led to street skirmishes; protesters hurled firecrackers and bricks at police in riot gear who fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets. On Tuesday night a white teenager with a semi-automatic rifle shot three demonstrators, and two of them died.

In Kenosha on Saturday, people painted messages of unity on boards protecting storefronts after many businesses were burned to the ground in arson attacks and vandalism.

Residents hoped calm would hold for a fourth night as protesters, some wearing “Justice for Jacob” masks, spoke about the need for racial justice.

“We are tired,” said Darius Johnson ( 27) of Milwaukee. “There is no excuse for this kind of racism. It could have been any one of us, my brother, my sister. It needs to stop.”

The 17-year-old suspect in Tuesday night’s killings, Kyle Rittenhouse, surrendered to police on Wednesday near his home in Illinois close to the Wisconsin border. Kenosha officials have been criticised for videos showing law enforcement agents giving him water before the burst of violence and acting chummy with armed militia men in the streets.

By Friday, more than 1,000 National Guard soldiers were on the ground in Kenosha, many from out of state.

As Kenosha went on curfew at 7pm local time, authorities in Chicago blocked streets and braced for duelling demonstrations along the city’s “Magnificent Mile”, a 13-block stretch of downtown’s Michigan Avenue, media accounts said. Some planned to protest police brutality while others prepared to demonstrate to support the police, they said.

Self-defence argument

Mr Rittenhouse is being held without bond and awaiting an extradition hearing on returning him to Wisconsin to face six criminal counts, including first-degree intentional homicide, reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a firearm.

His lawyers have indicated he would argue self-defence.

Mr Blake, who has undergone multiple surgeries since the shooting, had been handcuffed to a hospital bed because of an outstanding arrest warrant. The handcuffs were removed on Friday and officers guarding Blake stood down after the warrant was vacated, according to his attorney, Pat Cafferty.

The warrant was based on a criminal complaint filed against Blake in July. The complaint shows that Mr Blake’s ex-girlfriend, the mother of three of his children, told police Mr Blake broke into her home on May 3rd and sexually assaulted her before stealing her truck and debit card.

Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul said this week that police confronted Mr Blake when called to the home of a woman who had reported her “boyfriend was present” without permission, and officers tried to arrest him. Mr Kaul said efforts to subdue Mr Blake with a Taser failed, and that investigators later recovered a knife from the floor of the car that Mr Blake was leaning into when he was shot.

On Friday, the Kenosha police union defended the officers, saying Mr Blake was armed with a knife, fought the officers and was given several chances to cooperate before they used deadly force.

Mr Blake’s family and his attorneys have said he did not provoke or threaten the police.–Reuters