KENOSHA — Kenosha is gearing up for the president’s visit on Tuesday, but people who live and work in the city are split on whether the trip is a good idea.
When President Trump comes to Kenosha, he’ll meet with local law enforcement and survey the damage from the violence early last week. One of those spots could be by 22nd Avenue and 63rd Street, where a number of businesses fell victim to rioting, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
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Anthony Smith-Fleming manages the Sugar Boxx ice cream store in the Uptown neighborhood, just around the corner from buildings that were set on fire or looted. While his spot wasn’t targeted, he felt the impact.
“We had to like air out the place, get all the smoke out,” he said.
Smith-Fleming hopes the president can unite the city.
“We don’t need the intention to be fighting each other, we just really need to come together and listen to what he has to say,” Smith-Fleming said. “I hope the president can actually bring us together as a community.”
Kenosha resident, Vertin Endresen feels the same.
“He wants to assess what’s going on because he cares,” Endresen said.
Preparations are underway in #Kenosha for @POTUS @realDonaldTrump’s visit tomorrow. “No parking” signs are posted along the roads and there are more law enforcement patrols out and about #Wisconsin @tmj4 pic.twitter.com/LqQt2zGDlE— Lauren Linder (@lauren_linder) August 31, 2020
On the other hand, Leonard Bolton fears the potential backlash, as do others.
“I don’t think he should come,” Bolton said. “We don’t need no more of this happening down here.”
Danish Brotherhood Board Officer, Robert Nelson, said there’s a divide that’s evident throughout the city.
“The tensions are really high, so you put two different groups of people with completely opposite viewpoints in the same area, there’s always potential for confrontation,” Nelson said.
It hurts him to know that the banquet hall where the fraternal organization used to gather, is now a pile of rubble, destroyed by flames that spread from the mattress shop next door.
“It's definitely heartbreaking,” Nelson said. “That building has been around for 110 years, a lot of people put their lives into that place and it was torched for absolutely no reason, other than it was there.”
Now he’s worried more violence could break out when the president comes to town.
“All it takes right now is a little match going off and the next thing you know something else starts on fire,” Nelson said.
Nelson feels that match could be the president, but he hopes that’s not the case.
Preparations for the president’s visit are already visible in parts of Kenosha. ‘No parking’ signs are posted along some roads and more law enforcement are out patrolling the city.