Trump supporters, Black Lives Matter protests draw hundreds to downtown Kenosha during visit

Liz Nagy Image
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Trump's Kenosha visit draws hundreds of demonstrators downtown
As President Donald Trump visited Kenosha, conflicting sets of demonstrators took to the streets near the city's center of civil unrest.

KENOSHA, Wis. (WLS) -- As President Donald Trump visited Kenosha Tuesday, conflicting sets of demonstrators took to the streets near the city's center of civil unrest.

The president's ardent supporters were there to welcome him to the city, and so were protesters demanding justice for Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old man shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer nine days ago.

Kenosha visit by President Trump comes after Jacob Blake shooting sparks protests

"It's a play. He wants to look good and he's claiming law and order, and it's not true," said Adam Gadzala, Black Lives Matter supporter.

"I don't understand people who want politicians to stay away and not acknowledge the problem and situation," said a Trump supporter who did not share her name,

The president's ardent supporters showed up to welcome him to a city that the mayor and Wisconsin's governor asked him to stay away from. Kenosha helped send Trump to the White House by the narrowest margin in Wisconsin in 2016. After more than a week of unrest, there's a crowd who's happy to see him.

"Coming here today to 'heal' the city I think is a joke, because it's more like a campaign stop," said Courtney Charlamane, resident.

Jacob Blake's family holds day of service as President Trump visits Kenosha

"I think his visit is showing that he cares about the people, he's come to see what happened and let people know he's not just one guy sitting in the White House," said Marie, Trump supporter. "He comes to where the people are and where people are hurting."

But political divisions in Kenosha are tense following Blake's shooting.

"I think everyone on both sides can agree Jacob Blake had kids in the car who watched him get shot by a police officer. If that happened to someone In your family, you would want justice, so I think it's important to focus not on Trump but what it takes to get justice," said Chris, a Black Lives Matter supporter who traveled from Milwaukee.

The president said he was here to thank law enforcement and tour damaged businesses.

The divide blown out into the open in Kenosha is a microcosm of what many people see happening across the country - very vocal activists shouting straight past each other.

"I just want the people to give each other a chance. We have to stop this. If I don't like you and you don't like me we can agree to disagree. That's peaceful," said Angela Whitfield, Chicago resident.

After the president left most of his supporters appeared to disperse as well, leaving mostly Black Lives Matters supporters in downtown Kenosha. A 7 p.m. curfew remains in effect Tuesday night.

Officials say damage to city-owned property is estimated at nearly $2 million so far. The city's public works director, Shelly Billingsley, provided the estimate Monday night on what it would cost to replace garbage trucks, street lights and traffic signals, among other things that were destroyed or damaged over the last week.

Mayor John Antaramian has said the city will request $30 million in aid from the state to help rebuild.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.