Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. on Tuesday, September 1, joined representatives and faith leaders from 50 organizations to help keep the peace in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as President Donald Trump visited the city amid protests, to meet with businessmen and inspect damage done by protesters.
Chicago activist Ja’Mal Green joined leaders in Kenosha as Trump supporters and protesters clashed more than a week after Kenosha police shot 29-year-old Jacob Blake seven times in the back, setting off days of social unrest in the city.
During his visit, Trump said law enforcement isn’t systemically racist, and the needed structural change is safety.
“Kenosha’s been ravaged by anti-police and anti-American riots,” Trump said.
Trump criticized “violent mobs” for destroying businesses and throwing bricks at police in an act he likened to “domestic terrorism.”
Trump won Wisconsin during his election in 2016. With Trump trailing in national polls against Democrat Joe Biden, critics accuse Trump of using the problems in Kenosha to cement his bond with voters after his approval ratings plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rev. Jackson and his national field director, Bishop Tavis Grant, said on Tuesday rather than protesting Trump’s visit to Kenosha, community leaders have agreed to celebrate the life of Blake, with a day of cleanup and non-violent activities as visual steps to begin the healing this city needs after days of civil unrest and murders.
“The president is coming to do a commercial, not to reconcile but to notarize,” said Rev. Jackson, who said the community will respond in a positive way by providing community services rather than protest.
Local officials had asked Trump not to come at this time because of the protests held in support of Blake and outrage over the murders of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony M. Huber, 26, along with the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 26.
Earlier Monday, Rev. Jackson met with Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, and her niece, Demi Gibbs, at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, 930 E. 50th St., where they were treated to lunch. He praised Mrs. Jackson for the way she has conducted herself after the shooting of her son.
Later on Monday, Rev. Jackson and Bishop Grant met with representatives of 50 organizations at a barbershop in Kenosha to map out plans for Tuesday’s events. He urged the multi-racial group not to protest Trump’s visit but rather to engage in positive community service.
Community leaders agreed to provide services like free COVID-19 testing, filling out census forms, voter registration and other community services.
Bishop Grant said, “The [Kenosha] organizations have committed themselves in joining Rev. Jackson in respecting the appeals of Blake’s mother and father that there would be no looting, no rioting and no demonstrations on Tuesday. Kenosha needs to recover, heal, and it will start” on Tuesday, Grant said.
Justin Blake, Jacob Blake’s uncle, said, “We will be at the place where Little Jake was shot. We will do some knocking on some doors, some engagement in the community, making sure they sign up to vote, making sure they fill out census forms, doing some COVID-19 testing, and we have some volunteer doctors coming down.”
Tanya McLean, a Kenosha City Council member and community organizer, said, “We are going to hold a community celebration of his life, have a huge community cleanup, give out free haircuts and just love on each other.”
McLean read a statement from several Kenosha organizations about Tuesday’s events. “We gather today where Jacob Blake was shot seven times in front of his kids by Kenosha police to demand an end to police violence and systemic racism and to call for investment in our community.
“Until Black communities can thrive, none of us can truly thrive. Amid our heartbreak and outrage, we’ve been inspired to see people from all walks of life come together to support each other and to demand justice. But others are using this moment to further cleave racial division and chaos.
“We know why Trump is here. He’s here to sow chaos and fear. We reject these attempts to divide us, to act from a place of fear. As a community, we’re gathered together today with resolve because we believe a better future is possible. By coming together, just as we have done in the past, we can bring our country closer to its promise of liberty, justice and freedom for all.
“We don’t need more pain and division from a President who is putting his own re-election ahead of the needs of our city and the American people.
“Instead of creating a path toward accountability and justice, President Trump is trying to stir up more division and chaos. But we see this strategy for what it is: a way to distract us from his failures to protect people across our country during this pandemic.
“Republicans in D.C. and here in Wisconsin have failed us. We still don’t have the care, safety and support every one of us needs.
“The language of hate and fear that Trump and others like him use to divide us has far-reaching consequences, including the horrifying incident last week when a violent extremist shot and killed two protestors as they called for justice and injured another.
“On Saturday, August 29, thousands came together in a powerful show of unity and healing. Today, we come together again to heal and care for one another. We are committed to fight today, tomorrow and as long as it takes until this is a country where justice and freedom are for all of us.”