The New York Times is going with blaming Kenosha's Democratic Mayor, and Gov. Tony Evers
Downtown buildings set ablaze by arsonists were still smoldering from the night before when Kirk Ingram started to paint an angel on his boarded-up store front.
Ingram, a Democrat who runs a massage therapy business, said the war-zone images of his city on TV — armed people running through the streets, burned cars and broken windows — were bolstering President Donald Trump's get-tough message. Maybe a few uplifting murals could start to tell a different story about Kenosha, Ingram said Wednesday.
Trump has attempted to frame the violent unrest in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting as fallout from inept leadership and the inability of Democrats to take control of their cities. On Wednesday, he announced he would send in the National Guard, while criticizing Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers for not doing so, even though the Democrat had deployed guard troops on Monday and increased them on subsequent days.
As this battleground state grapples with social unrest, some Democrats fear that the looting and rioting and clashes are feeding Trump’s argument that this is what life would be like under the so-called radical left. The worry is that especially among suburban swing voters, the more upheaval and violence they witness, the more their sympathy for peaceful Black Lives Matters protesters will wane.
“There’s no doubt it’s playing into Trump’s hands,” said Paul Soglin, who served as mayor of Madison, on and off, for more than two decades. “There’s a significant number of undecided voters who are not ideological, and they can move very easily from Republican to the Democratic column and back again. They are, in effect, the people who decide elections. And they are very distraught about both the horrendous carnage created by police officers in murdering African Americans, and ... for the safety of their communities.”
Trump, of course, is positioning himself as the antidote to urban unrest. "So let me be clear: The violence must stop, whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha," Vice President Mike Pence declared in his Republican convention speech Wednesday night, with Trump looking on. "We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color."
Republicans had chided Joe Biden and other Democrats for not calling out the violence in the aftermath of the Blake shooting. Biden immediately addressed the shooting, but didn’t condemn the ensuing violence until Wednesday in a video posted on social media.
Outrage in Wisconsin over the Blake shooting reverberated beyond the streets of Kenosha into the world of sports, when players for Milwaukee Bucks NBA team took the extraordinary step of boycotting a playoff game. The move set off a wave of other sports game cancellations, ensuring the Blake shooting and its aftermath would touch many more Americans.
On the ground in Kenosha, meanwhile, frustrations were palpable.
“The National Guard ought to be on the corners right now,” fumed resident Ron Dooley, who said he was on his way to check whether his favorite diner had been burned down. “Look at this.” he said pointing to blocks of boarded-up storefronts. “It looks like I’m in the slums of L.A.”
While many demonstrators have been peaceful, others have set fire to buildings. At least four businesses downtown have been looted. Men armed with guns have shown up to confront protesters, leading to the shooting of three people, two of them fatally. On Wednesday, a white teenager from across the state line in Illinois was arrested in connection to the shooting, and Mr. Trump vowed to send in federal law enforcement and additional National Guard troops.
In Kenosha County, where the president won by fewer than 250 votes in 2016, those who already supported Mr. Trump said in interviews that the events of the past few days have simply reinforced their conviction that he is the man for the job. But some voters who were less sure of their choice said the chaos in their city and the inability of elected leaders to stop it were currently nudging them toward the Republicans.
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And some Democrats, nervous about condemning the looting because they said they understood the rage behind it, worried that what was happening in their town might backfire and aid the president’s re-election prospects.
Yet the situation in Kenosha remains extremely fluid. Many people in the city are enraged about the police shooting of the Black man, Jacob Blake; the Democratic nominee for president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., spoke with his family and said that “justice must and will be done.” On Wednesday night, in response to the shooting, athletes from the N.B.A., W.N.B.A., Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer refused to participate in games. And following the arrest of the teenager in connection with the two fatal shootings, it emerged that he had displayed support for Mr. Trump on social media.
Ellen Ferwerda, who owns an antique furniture store downtown just blocks from the worst of the destruction that is now closed, said that she was desperate for Mr. Trump to lose in November but that she had “huge concern” the unrest in her town could help him win. She added that local Democratic leaders seemed hesitant to condemn the mayhem.
“I think they just don’t know what to say,” she said. “People are afraid to take a stance either way, but I do think it’s strange they’re all being so quiet. Our mayor has disappeared. It’s like, ‘Where is he?’”
I guess I have to pull out Dr. King's Letter From A Birmingham Jail
once again, because nothing has changed in 67 years.
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
"But it's violence, you say". Some violence does happen. It's awful, I condemn it, and it needs to stop. But collective punishment of Black America through police brutality and military National Guard force is not the solution
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
I guess I'm going to vote for Donald Trump's racism because you people won't behave" is a hell of a thing to admit, and yet here we are. I was hoping that after George Floyd, this time would be different. After Jacob Blake, after Breonna Taylor, and after the murders of two by a 17-year-old boy in Kenosha itself, called to action by Trump's violent rhetoric.
If you tell me your support of my humanity rests solel, and conditionally, on what you choose to allow me to have by behavior you determine, then I will fight you every goddamn step of the way.
Because you? You're my number one problem.
Black Lives Still Matter.