NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements on President Donald Trump’s decision to visit Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday. Local leaders, including Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, have urged President Trump to cancel his planned visit.
“Trump’s trip to Wisconsin is designed to stoke more violence and, quite literally, scare up more votes,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Instead of going where he’s unwelcome and rallying armed militia members, Trump should stay in Washington and make good on his long-abandoned promise to champion common-sense gun safety laws, which 90 percent of Americans support.”
“President Trump is going to Kenosha in an attempt to sow even more mayhem and violence; his top strategist admitted that creating chaos is part of his campaign strategy,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Trump’s insistence on inciting even more suffering in a city still grappling with the shooting of Jacob Blake – and the deaths and injuries of protesters – shows that he’s intent on lawlessness and disorder.”
“Our community is in the middle of a deep reckoning with the devastating impacts of systemic racism and police violence, and all the President has done so far is pour gasoline on the fire and encourage violence against the protesters demanding change,” said Khary Penebaker, a gun violence survivor and member of the Everytown Survivor Network and volunteer with the Wisconsin chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Mr. President – play golf, hide in your bunker, do whatever you’d like – but do not come to Kenosha.”
Last Tuesday, three people were shot, two fatally, in Kenosha, Wisconsin during protests of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. This horrific shooting represents the intersection of several deadly factors: President Trump and right wing commentators demonizing protestors, NRA lobbyists being allowed to write our gun laws (specifically the open carry loophole that allows extremists to openly carry long guns at protests), and police –– at times –– providing special treatment and even encouragement to armed vigilantes.
Since nationwide protests began after the murder of George Floyd in May, the President and his allies have demonized protesters, incited violence, and enabled vigilantes. In May, the president tweeted “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The night before the shooting, at the Republican National Convention, five different speakers spoke of “uncontrolled violent mobs that they claim have taken over the nation’s streets,” according to the Washington Post, and the St. Louis couple who pointed guns at peaceful protesters was given a national platform. Washington Post’s Philip Bump wrote, “it’s impossible not to notice how that rhetoric echoes in what appears to have happened in Kenosha.”