Today, President Trump visited Kenosha, Wisconsin to observe the destruction and meet with local business owners and law enforcement amid tensions. The president began his remarks by allowing the media, who he noted he sometimes called the “fake news,” into the room and thanking Sheriff Beth and Kenosha Police Chief Miskinis for the tour of their operations. He followed up by introducing and thanking the members of his administration that were present, along with key politicians, who he was quick to endorse for their reelection. President Trump also referenced some of the community members that were gathered to say a few words. During this round-robin President Trump noted that his administration would be helping with law enforcement and economic development in Kenosha.
In his prepared statement President Trump characterized the allegations of police brutality and systemic racism as part of the “radical left ideology” that has contributed to the creation of what he called a “violent mob.” He further called the “anti-police” rhetoric “dangerous” but assured that the “bad apples” would be dealt with by the system. Unfortunately, dealing with bad police officers usually entails slaps on the wrist and transfers to different precincts. By merely shuffling these bad apples around more often than not, the effect is that they spoil the bunch, as the complete phrase warns.
The president revealed that his administration would be providing $1 million to Kenosha law enforcement, $4 million to local small businesses, and over $42 million for statewide public safety initiatives. President Trump noted that Attorney General Bill Barr wanted to include federal funds in order to provide directing support for law enforcement as well as the ability to hire additional prosecutors.
The president admitted that his administration is working on “dismantling Antifa” and that Operation Legend was rolled out earlier this year in order to tackle “all of these problems in Democratic cities.” He added that Antifa is “very bad people,” despite the fact that the coalition is self-described as “anti-fascist.”
Ultimately, President Trump revealed, “I really came today to thank law enforcement.”
The president then asked Attorney General Bill Barr to provide a statement.
At the very least, AG Barr noted that the protest was hijacked by radicals bent on “violence for the sake of violence.” He further decried their “black bloc” tactics, which are explicit tactics used to protect protesters and anti-fascists from targeting by the state. Unfortunately, he made no mention of right-wing extremism, vigilante violence, or the specific details of the Kenosha shooting. AG Barr noted that federal and state law enforcement officials are reviewing “every video we can get our hands on” in order to charge anyone who may have committed a crime, from setting police cars on fire to throwing rocks at people.
Ultimately, this visit was predominantly more of the same from the Trump administration. His remarks dismissed peaceful protests, claims of systemic racism and police brutality, and lauded his support for law enforcement and the rule of law. Unfortunately, the dismissive rhetoric of the president does seem to be getting worse and sinking even further into the realm of absolute fantasy. With mass protests across the nation, even sparking international protests, Republicans cannot simply ignore and dismiss these problems away. So instead, they mislabel them and falsely characterize them in order to justify the swift authoritarian action that is to come.
Click here to view the full press conference.