By MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News
(MADISON, Wis.) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers “respectfully” asked that President Donald Trump reconsider visiting Kenosha this week amid civil unrest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, saying he was concerned his presence would “only hinder our healing.”
White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday that Trump planned to travel to the city on Tuesday to meet with law enforcement and survey damage from destructive protests, according to pool reports.
In response, the Democratic governor penned a letter Sunday urging the president to call off the trip.
“I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state,” Evers wrote. “I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.”
Protests have occurred nightly in Kenosha, some 40 miles south of Milwaukee, over the police shooting of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. The Aug. 23 incident, which was captured on cellphone video, has left Blake paralyzed.
On Tuesday, protests turned deadly, when an alleged 17-year-old gunman shot three protesters, killing two of them.
Hundreds of members of the National Guard have been deployed to Kenosha amid the civil unrest, and a state-of-emergency curfew has been extended through Tuesday.
In his letter, Evers expressed concern that a visit from the president would redirect resources from the city’s recovery “at a time when it is critical that we continue to remain focused on keeping the people of Kenosha safe and supporting the community’s response.”
The letter comes as Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called for Trump to “support us, or stay the hell out of the way,” following a deadly shooting during protests in the Oregon city.
Jacob Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, told ABC News he thinks Trump is partially responsible for what happened to his nephew and for the violence across the country.
“How could they not be feeding on violence when the man in the White House is steadily drumming it up?” he said.
When asked about Trump’s planned visit to Kenosha on Tuesday, Justin Blake said that his family has not heard from the president, but they don’t want “anything to do with him.”
“We believe he incited this violence,” he said.
In his acceptance speech during the Republican National Convention last week, Trump painted the election as an existential choice between lawlessness and law and order, and listed Kenosha as one of the “Democrat-run cities” suffering from “rioting, looting, arson and violence.”
His challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, charged Sunday that the president is “recklessly encouraging violence” and “fanning the flames of hate and division in our society.”
In his letter, Evers noted that on Monday, the Wisconsin legislature will take up a policing accountability and transparency reform package.
“I would welcome your support of these initiatives,” he wrote to Trump.
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