KENOSHA, Wisc. (NewsNation) — During a press conference Monday, on the eve of President Donald Trump’s visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, the city’s mayor maintains the timing is wrong and that the community needs time to recover.
“It would be better for us to pull together, let the community get together and actually heal up the process of what’s going on,” Mayor John Antaramian said. He announced the citywide curfew will remain in place through the rest of the week.
Antaramian would not confirm to reporters if he’ll be meeting with the president.
Local law enforcement officials did not give an opinion on the President’s visit, instead choosing to focus on preparations.
At a press briefing a few hours later, President Trump said of his visit to Kenosha, “I have to see the people that did such a good job for me and we’re meeting with numerous people and we have tremendous support in the state of Wisconsin; so I promised them when it all gets taken care of we’ll go.”
There are concerns a visit from President Trump could stoke unrest. Wisconsin’s Gov. Tony Evers previously asked the president to reconsider his visit to Kenosha. The president said he’s going and will meet with law enforcement officials.
“Well it could also increase enthusiasm and it could increase love and respect for our country and that’s why I’m going cause they did a fantastic job,” Trump said.
Asked Monday whether he feared Trump’s visit could stir more violence, Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser said: “We’ll find out tomorrow, won’t we?”
Trump’s visit comes as demonstrators are calling for the officer who shot Blake to be fired and face attempted murder charges, and more than a week after authorities say a 17-year-old from northern Illinois shot and killed two protesters.
The tension began Aug. 23 after a video showed a Kenosha police officer shooting Blake, a Black man, in the back while responding to a call about a domestic dispute. All last week, Black Lives Matter protesters held events to call for changes to policing.
Authorities said they had resources in place to protect the bedroom community between Chicago and Milwaukee, including more than 1,500 National Guard members.
The Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said the focus is on protecting the community.
“For me to comment should he be here – some think he should and some think he shouldn’t – for me to give my opinion truthfully on that right now it doesn’t matter,” he said.
The officers weren’t wearing body cameras because the Kenosha Police Department doesn’t mandate their use. All officers involved are now under administrative leave, which is standard practice.
Blake is paralyzed from the shooting, his family said, and is recovering in a Milwaukee hospital.
The shooting sparked new protests against racial injustice and police brutality, just three months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police touched off a wider reckoning on race.
Investigators have said little about what led to Blake’s shooting. The Kenosha police union said Blake had a knife and fought with officers, putting one of them in a headlock as two efforts to stun him with a Taser were unsuccessful. State investigators have said only that officers saw a knife on the floor of the car.
In the cellphone footage recorded by a bystander, Blake walks from the sidewalk around the front of an SUV to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns drawn and shout at him. As Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire. Three of Blake’s children were in the vehicle.
The man who recorded the video, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he heard police yell at Blake, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before gunfire erupted. White said he didn’t see a knife in Blake’s hands.
Ben Crump, an attorney for Blake’s family has said Blake did nothing to provoke police and has called for officer Rusten Sheskey’s arrest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.