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In strife-torn Kenosha, Trump extols law enforcement

Washington DC: President Trump on Tuesday toured property damage and lauded law enforcement in Kenosha, Wis., while largely sidestepping the police shooting of Jacob Blake there that set off days of demonstrations and renewed calls for systemic reform to policing and racial justice, The Hill reported  .

Trump visited the city of 100,000 despite calls from state and local leaders that he stay away, warning he may further inflame tensions. The city has been wracked by demonstrations that have at times devolved into violence after a police officer shot Blake seven times in the back more than a week ago. Blake is now in critical condition in the hospital.

The president surveyed the remnants of B&L Office Furniture, a furniture store that was severely damaged during riots in Kenosha last week, and spoke to its owners. During the later roundtable, Trump pledged to devote federal resources to help businesses and law enforcement in the city.

But the bulk of his focus was on propping up the need for law and order across the country, part of a weeks-long effort to elevate unruly protesters as a key campaign issue. Trump again blamed Democratic leaders for escalating tensions in cities, and he focused repeatedly on unrest in Portland, Ore., despite being in Kenosha.

The president only referenced Blake when asked by the media about the shooting, and he did not mention the victim’s name. Trump said he doesn’t believe racism is systemic in law enforcement and declined to engage with questions about the goal of peaceful protesters or whether he believes there is systemic racism in the United States, pivoting in each case to defend police and keep the focus on the riots that have broken out in some cities, which he claimed were undercovered by the media.

Trump announced Tuesday that his administration would provide roughly $1 million to support Kenosha law enforcement, nearly $4 million for local businesses affected by recent unrest and close to $13 million for statewide efforts to prosecute criminals.

The underlying political stakes of Tuesday’s visit were apparent. Wisconsin is a critical battleground state in November’s election after Trump carried it by roughly 23,000 votes in 2016. A Morning Consult poll released the morning of Trump’s trip to Kenosha found Biden with a 9-point lead over Trump in Wisconsin.

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