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Democrats say Trump visit may worsen protests in Wisconsin city

FILE PHOTO: Mandela Barnes speaks to the crowd gathered at Civic Center Park located outside of the Kenosha County Courthouse, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Jim Vondruska

BY NANDITA BOSE AND DAVID MORGAN

President Donald Trump should not visit Kenosha, Wisconsin, the city where protests erupted last week after a Black man was shot in the back by a white police officer, the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor said on Sunday.

The Republican president, who has taken a hard stand against racial protests in the country, will visit the Midwestern city on Tuesday, the White House said late on Saturday, sparking concerns among Democrats that this may worsen the strife.

“They centered an entire convention around creating more animosity and creating more division around what’s going on in Kenosha,” Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes told CNN, referring to last week’s Republican National Convention.

“So I don’t know how, given any of the previous statements that the president made, that he intends to come here to be helpful, and we absolutely don’t need that right now,” he added.

The Aug. 22 shooting of Jacob Blake, who was shot in front of three of his children, turned Kenosha, a mostly white city south of Milwaukee, into the latest flashpoint in a summer of U.S. demonstrations against police brutality and racism.

Critics accuse Trump, who faces Democratic former vice president Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election, of seeking to exacerbate violence with incendiary rhetoric.

Republicans deny this, saying Trump wants to restore law and order.

Representative Karen Bass, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, predicted Trump’s Kenosha visit would only make things worse.

“His visit has one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to agitate things,” the Democrat told CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “We’re 66 days from an election and I think it’s a tragedy that we have a president that is doing everything he can to fan the flames.”

Republicans suggested state officials had been slow to restore order and said the federal government was ready to provide additional law enforcement, including in Portland, Oregon where one person was shot dead late on Saturday as protesters from rival groups clashed in the northwest U.S. city.

“Any governor, Republican or Democrat … can request help from the federal government. We are willing to come in; we are willing to provide additional assets as we did in Kenosha,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

“All options continue to be on the table” to resolve the Portland protests, including sending in federal law enforcement assistance, the acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

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