On Monday, United States President Donald Trump declined an opportunity to condemn a 17-year-old teen who killed two people at a White House press conference. The boy is reported to have shot two men during a protest in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Protests have continued in the city since the incident occurred.
On 23 August, Kyle Rittenhouse (the accused) fatally shot two men, Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and wounded a third, after attending the demonstration armed with a semiautomatic rifle. Rittenhouse had said he had come to the city to protect businesses from protesters, according to widely circulated mobile phone footage on Tuesday.
Trump was continuously questioned about his take on condemning Rittenhouse to which he appeared to blame the victims for “violently” attacking the gunman. “He was trying to get away from them,” Trump said, and Rittenhouse “fell, and then they very violently attacked him”. Trump said the incident “was something that we’re looking at right now and it’s under investigation but I guess he was in very big trouble he [Rittenhouse] would have been, he probably would have been killed”.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany had said earlier of the incident: “The president is not going to again weigh in on that.” On Saturday, Trump dodged a reporter’s question about Rittenhouse, saying the incident was still under investigation.”We’re looking at it very, very carefully,” the president said.
There have been nightly protests in Kenosha since Blake was shot in the back by police seven times on August 23, leaving him paralysed. Authorities have maintained he was reaching for a knife when police opened fire in front of Blake’s three children.
On Sunday, Democratic candidate Joe Biden challenged Trump to “condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right”.
Putting forward his views on the issue, Biden said “Trump can’t stop the violence, because for years he’s fomented it”. On Monday, while delivering a campaign address in Pennsylvania, he said “His failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is.”
Sources report that Trump is set to visit Kenosha, where the US National Guard has been deployed, on Tuesday. This is despite the fact that the state governor has been warning him continuously that the trip would only further agitate the situation.
Trump said he would not be meeting with the Blake family, because they wanted a lawyer involved and he did not think that was “appropriate”.