President Trump on Wednesday ordered federal law enforcement officers and National Guardsmen to Kenosha, Wisconsin after a third straight night of violent rioting and a shooting left two people dead and one person injured.
According to White House Senior Communications Advisor Ben Williamson, the directive includes at least 900 additional National Guardsmen and 200 federal law enforcement officers.
“We will NOT stand for looting, arson, violence, and lawlessness on American streets,” the president tweeted on Wednesday morning. “My team just got off the phone with Governor Evers who agreed to accept federal assistance (Portland should do the same!) TODAY, I will be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER!”
On Tuesday, August 25, the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors wrote to Gov. Tony Evers, D-Wis., requesting “at least” an additional 2,000 National Guardsmen. “We are respectfully requesting that you contact President Trump and solicit at least an additional 2,000 National Guardsmen… The citizens of Kenosha are begging us… to keep Kenosha safe.”
Rather than fulfill the request for 2,000 National Guardsmen, Gov. Evers declared a state of emergency and doubled the number of activated National Guardsmen from 125 to 250.
Additionally, Gov. Evers rejected an offer on Tuesday from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for additional help.
“The president was on the phone today with the governor as well. We have the National Guard standing by… but today that request was denied by the governor,” Meadows said in an interview with Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night.
The Kenosha County Board of Supervisors again wrote to Gov. Evers on Wednesday, August 26, to formally request 1,500 more National Guardsmen to be sent to Kenosha “immediately.”
The president’s directive will mostly fulfill the county’s request.
Tuesday night in Kenosha, Wisconsin was horrific. In addition to the rioting, looting and vandalism, a fatal shooting left two dead and one injured. As recounted by The New York Times, several videos piece together the story of what happened. Video begins showing Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, being chased into a parking lot by a group of people. One man fires a shot into the air while another pursuer lunges at Rittenhouse, who then appears to shoots the man in the head. This man later died. Rittenhouse stops, makes a call, presumably calling 911, before running away being chased by more pursuers.
While running away, Rittenhouse trips and falls while several people begin to jump on him and one person yells “Get his a**.” As one man tries to hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard, he shoots the man in the chest. This man also later died. Then, Rittenhouse shoot another man in the arm that was pursuing him with a pistol.
Rittenhouse has since been arrested and charged with first-degree murder, though from the available video evidence, it appears that the charges will be difficult to sustain.
“Our city looks like a war zone,” Gary Schneeberger, a resident of Kenosha, Wisconsin, told The Daily Citizen. Schneeberger said he had helped board up his church and office downtown in order to protect it from vandalism.
He also said that he approved of the president’s decision to send in additional National Guardsmen in hopes that it will offer a “quieting presence.”
Schneeberger relayed that on Tuesday, while boarding up his office, a female colleague was approached by an African American man walking down the street. “He just wanted to hug her. It was a beautiful moment, the kind we need to see replicated — and reciprocated,” Schneeberger added. “Love is our only way out of this.”
The rioting in Kenosha began on Monday night after an officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake earlier that day. Many early news reports of the shooting described Blake as an “unarmed man.” For example, on Tuesday, CBS News described the sequence of events as follows: “Jacob Blake, an unarmed 29-year-old man [was] shot in the back multiple times by a Kenosha officer as he tried to get inside a car with his children inside.”
But new evidence emerged late on Wednesday evening revealing that the call originally placed into 911 was from a woman who reported that her boyfriend, Jacob Blake, was unlawfully on her property and had stolen her keys. According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Blake also had a knife on the floorboard of his car.
It’s unclear how, or if, the riots in Kenosha, as well as those in Portland, Oregon, Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington among other cities will impact the 2020 presidential race.
On Tuesday, liberal CNN host and commentator Don Lemon said that he thinks the rioting will help President Trump.
“I think this is a blind spot for Democrats… what they can do — and I think maybe Joe Biden may be afraid to do it … he’s got to address it… The rioting has to stop… It’s showing up in the polling, it’s showing up in focus groups,” Lemon said. “You have coronavirus, and you have Kenosha.”
According to a recent poll by Rasmussen, “Sixty-two percent (62%) [of Americans] say the growing level of violent protest is important to their vote in the next election.”
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