Fact Check: Kenosha

Justice for Jacob protest sign

This image was originally posted to Flickr by Becker1999 at https://flickr.com/photos/21426642@N07/50267630941. It was reviewed on 26 August 2020 by FlickreviewR 2 and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.

It’s only September 1, but Trump is already snowing the electorate with a blizzard of lies and distortions. Here’s a fact check on just his most recent statements about Kenosha:

“If I didn’t INSIST on having the National Guard activate and go into Kenosha, Wisconsin, there would be no Kenosha right now,” Trump tweeted early on Aug. 31, 2020. “Also, there would have been great death and injury.”

Nope: not at all true.

First, the National Guard was called in by the governor of Wisconsin, not by Trump. That’s standard: the National Guard is a state operation in every state. Governors call out the National Guard for state operations, and governors can ask other states for help. A president can federalize the National Guard, as President Eisenhower did to enforce desegregation of schools in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 and as President Kennedy did in 1963, when Mississippi Governor George Wallace tried to stop desegregation of the University of Mississippi.

Second, there was never a threat of “great death and injury” or the destruction of Kenosha. Kenosha is a city of 100,000 people, covering more than 28 square miles. The protests were limited to a small area:

“The protests, even at the peak of the unrest Aug. 25, were largely concentrated in the 1-acre Civic Park and a nearby area a few blocks wide. Though people spilled into nearby neighborhoods after the largest groups were dispersed.”

The protests were mostly peaceful, and leaders including Jacob Blake’s family repeatedly called for peaceful protest.

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Trump not only exaggerated violence by protesters but also excused the killing of two protesters by one of his supporters. Kyle Rittenhouse, who came to the protest from Illinois, armed with a long gun that he could not legally possess. According to Trump, Rittenhouse was just defending himself. That’s why he drove away, while his victims lay dead on the street.

Unsurprisingly, Trump also defended the police who shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back, saying: “They can do 10,000 great acts, which is what they do, and one bad apple —or a choker, you know, a choker, they choke — shooting the guy in the back many times … they choke, just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot putt.”

Nowhere in Trump’s statements is any sympathy or concern for Jacob Blake, who lies in aa hospital bed, most likely paralyzed for life. Nowhere in his statements is any condemnation of the police for shooting Blake in the back or of the right-wing shooter for killing protesters. His only denunciations are reserved for protesters, and for Kenosha and Wisconsin elected officials.

In contrast, listen to LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers:

“If you watch that video, you don’t need to be black to be outraged. You don’t need to be an American to be outraged.

“And then the Republicans talk about fear—we’re the ones that need to be scared. We’re the ones having to talk to every black child. What white father has to give his son a talk about being careful if you get pulled over? It’s just ridiculous.”

And listen to the admonition of Jacob Blake’s mother:

“Please let’s begin to pray for healing for our nation. We are the United States. Have we been united? Do you understand what’s going to happen, because a house that is against each other cannot stand?

“To all of the police officers, I’m praying for you and your families

“To all of the citizens, my black and brown sisters and brothers I’m praying for you.

“I believe that you are an intelligent being just like the rest of us. Let’s use our hearts, our love, our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other. America is great when we behave greatly.”


1 Comment

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One response to “Fact Check: Kenosha

  1. Katie Fournier

    Thanks, Mary! As usual, very helpful!


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