President Trump visits Kenosha; holds discussion on community safety; announces grants

President Donald Trump surveyed damage in downtown and held a discussion on community safety during a visit to Kenosha Tuesday.

The visit comes after rioting resulted in severe damage to some buildings downtown and uptown after a police shooting of a black man that took place Aug. 23.

Among those present at the round table discussion were state Rep. Samantha Kerkman and state Sen. Van Wanggaard, whose districts include most of Western Kenosha County and parts of eastern Kenosha County. At the table for the discussion was county Supervisor Erin Decker, one of two county supervisors included. Decker’s supervisory district is in Western Kenosha County, which has not been affected by the post-shooting unrest. She also is the chairman of the Republican Party of Kenosha County.

County Executive Jim Kreuser and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, who hold non-partisan offices now but both were Democrats when members of the state legislature, were not present. Before the president’s visit, both had said they felt this was not good timing for a presidential visit and they were concerned it could incite tensions that have eased in recent days.

Sheriff David Beth and Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis represented law enforcement at the meeting. Also present were US Attorney General William Barr, US Sen. Ron Johnson and US Rep. Bryan Steil, whose district includes all of Kenosha County.

Barr and Trump announced in Kenosha some $41 million in grant awards to Wisconsin and local jurisdictions within the state to address a surge in community violence and ongoing civil unrest. Awards will support community-based crime-fighting initiatives, local victim service programs, and the hiring and training of law enforcement officers and prosecutors.

“As President Trump made abundantly clear today, this lawless behavior will not be allowed to stand and the federal government will provide the necessary resources to help state and local police officers who have worked hard to maintain peace and keep violence at bay,” Barr said in a news release about the grants. “Today’s grant money will help to bolster community-based crime-fighting initiatives and provide much needed support to victims affected by the recent violence.”

Kerkman issued the following statement via news release about the president’s visit:

I’m thankful that President Trump chose to come visit Kenosha to personally witness the destruction inflicted by rioters and to speak with local law enforcement about the very real needs that arise abruptly during times of hurt and civil unrest. The President already assisted to get National Guard and other law enforcement support on the ground in Wisconsin to stop the escalating violence, and today he literally showed up for Kenosha and committed additional support for our community and Wisconsin. We face a period of rebuilding ahead of us, a time of coming together peacefully, and working together to achieve healing in the community. The funding announced by President Trump today – one million dollars for the Kenosha Police Department, nearly $4 million to assist the small business that were burned, and $42 million to support public safety statewide, including victim services – are a positive contribution to these efforts, and I thank President Trump for his commitment to Kenosha and Wisconsin.”

Also, Wednesday,  Gov. Tony Evers, together with Sen. Bob Wirch, Reps. Tod Ohnstad and Tip McGuire, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation  announced Tuesday that businesses that suffered damage in Kenosha over the last week will be eligible for up to $20,000 each in no-interest loans to help cover repair costs.  

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