WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is not planning to meet with the family of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot multiple times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when he travels there Tuesday, the White House said.
Trump will travel to Kenosha, amid heightened protests over racial injustice and police brutality, to meet with “local enforcement, some business owners and he’ll survey the damage,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Monday. She added that a detailed scheduled would be released later in the day.
McEnany said earlier during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” that the White House had yet to connect with the Blake family but hold them “close to our hearts.”
“We are efforting outreach, have not been able to connect yet. So tomorrow the plan is so far to go and to meet with law enforcement and to look at the damage from the riots, but we are holding his family close to our hearts,” she said.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Blake family, told MSNBC on Monday that his office has received “no calls” from the White House.
“My office has received no calls to set up any kind of meeting,” Crump said.
An aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows disputed that account, writing on Twitter that Meadows had personally contacted the family on behalf of Trump and spoke with the family’s pastor several times.
Protests erupted last week after video footage showed police shooting Blake seven or eight times, with less than three minutes elapsing between the time the first officer arrived on the scene and shots being fired. Blake, 29, is in critical condition in the hospital and is paralyzed from the waist down. His children witnessed the shooting.
“He is devastated knowing that he can’t move his legs and that his three young boys witnessed him being shot in that car,” Crump told MSNBC.
The Justice Department has launched a civil rights probe into the shooting while local and state authorities have also opened investigations.
When asked about the shooting during a trip to New Hampshire Friday, Trump told local news outlet WMUR: “Well I’m looking into it very strongly. I’ll be getting reports and I’ll certainly let you know pretty soon,” he said.
“It was not a good sight. I didn’t like the sight of it, certainly, and I think most people would agree with that.”
Demonstrations have also turned deadly in the days following Blake’s shooting. Police arrested 17-year-old Illinois resident Kyle Rittenhouse in the shooting deaths of two protesters. In a video recorded before the incident, a person who appears to be Rittenhouse described himself as a member of a “militia” dedicated to protecting Kenosha.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has asked Trump to cancel his trip to Wisconsin amid ongoing tensions. The Democratic governor said he was concerned the president’s trip would only incite more violence.
“I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing,” Evers wrote Trump in a letter on Sunday. “I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.”
Trump has made police protests and urban violence major issues in his reelection campaign, arguing that a victory by Joe Biden and the Democrats would usher in an era of lawlessness.
Biden has responded by pointing out that the violence has erupted on Trump’s watch. He has accused Trump of stoking divisions that have laid the groundwork for clashes in cities like Portland and Kenosha.
Contributing: Rebecca Morin