For a Democratic governor and for the mayor of Kenosha, Wisconsin to ask Trump to reconsider his visit is like extending him an open invitation. Whether invited or not, Trump showed up Tuesday, Sept. 1 in the city that has been a center of unrest since the police shot Jacob Blake on Aug. 23.
Rather than offering his condolences or meeting with Blake’s family members, Trump hosted a roundtable of law enforcement and business leaders who welcomed him and praised his concern for the ravished community.
But at least one business owner, Tom Gram, owner of Rode’s Camera Shop that was burned down a week ago, refused an invitation to appear at the gathering. “I think everything he does turns into a circus and I just didn’t want to be involved in it,” Gram told reporters.
To counter Gram’s rejection, Trump invited the shop’s former owner John Rode III, citing him as the owner of the store. What Rode’s owns is the property, not the store. “I just appreciate President Trump coming today,” Rode said during the roundtable. “Everybody here does. We’re so thankful we got the federal troops here. Once they got here things did calm down a bit.”
Such praise was all Trump needed to step in and take credit for bringing a relative calm with only a small section of the city seriously damaged.
Pastors James and Sharon Ward from Skokie, Illinois were the two Black participants at the meeting. “I think James and I, our prayer is that we’re able to work to really bring about a change,” Sharon said. “I think there’s a lot of great change that’s been mentioned here, about how law enforcement has quickly solved the problem of crime in the street, but I think this is a good opportunity for us to really solve the problem in the nation.”
In his remarks, her husband addressed Trump directly. “Jesus himself said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’” he began. “If you give a righteous, good moral man the launch codes to our nuclear arsenal, everyone will be safe because he’s a good man. But if you give a malicious man who is immoral an ink pen, you have to fear for your life. I just want to say that we’re here to be of service to you and to our country to bring unity. We believe that we can help to listen with empathy and compassion to the real pain that hurts Black Americans.”
“I think you’re an incredible couple,” Trump said of the Wards who pastor Julia Jackson, Blake’s mother, “and thank you very much for being here.”
And that’s about as close as Trump came to having any explicit concern about the injured Blake who was shot seven times in the back and is currently paralyzed below the belt. Earlier Trump’s comments on the incident was to defend the police. At a press briefing on Monday, he said that sometimes an officer “makes a mistake” or “chokes” under pressure. Later during an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News Channel show “The Ingraham Angle,” he reiterated the phrase coaxed to clarify the comparison to a golfer missing a 3-foot putt.
He struggled to clear up the gaffe but never mentioned Blake’s name, keeping his comments on the protesters who he defined as “domestic terrorists.”