Ailing Kenosha on edge as Trump visit looms amid tensions

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Volunteers paint murals on boarded-up businesses in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, at an "Uptown Revival." The event was meant to gather donations for Kenosha residents and help businesses hurt by violent protests that sparked fires across the city following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. (AP Photo/ Russell Contreras)

KENOSHA, Wis. – Some residents in Kenosha fear a planned visit by President Donald Trump after unrest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake may stir more emotions and cause more violence and destruction in the southeastern Wisconsin city after several days of peace.

The city's mayor, and the state's governor, also said they believed Trump's visit comes at a bad time. But others welcomed the president's trip, scheduled for Tuesday, when he will tour damage and meet with law enforcement. Trump's visit comes as demonstrators are calling for the officer who shot Blake to be fired and face attempted murder charges, and more than a week after authorities say a 17-year-old from northern Illinois shot and killed two protesters.

Asked Monday whether he feared Trump's visit could stir more violence, Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser said: “We’ll find out tomorrow, won’t we?”

The tension began Aug. 23 after a video showed a Kenosha police officer shooting Blake, a Black man, in the back while responding to a call about a domestic dispute. All last week, Black Lives Matter protesters held events to call for changes to policing. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called a special session of the Legislature for Monday to take up a host of police reform measures, but Republicans took no immediate action.

Authorities said they had resources in place to protect the bedroom community between Chicago and Milwaukee, including more than 1,500 National Guard members.

Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said more than 200 people have been arrested since the protests began. Of those, more than half were from outside Kenosha, he said. Many arrests were for curfew violations, and included possible charges for burglary, possession of illegal drugs and carrying concealed weapons without a permit, officials said. The Kenosha Police Department has said more than 20 firearms were seized.

Beth also said that “outside agitators” have used social media or made phone calls to churches and businesses to scare people and spread false rumors.

“I want the people of Kenosha to know there’s a huge amount of resources here to protect you,” Beth said.