Mayor Lori Lightfoot says he’s “deepening the despair that so many people feel.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle calls it a “terrible idea.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he “should stay home.”
Leading Illinois Democrats are not rolling out the Welcome Wagon for President Donald Trump, arguing the Republican president should skip his Tuesday visit to Kenosha, Wis.
At an unrelated news conference, Lightfoot said she was concerned about Trump’s visit because he “exploits tensions” and creates “division” — both are “the last thing Kenosha needs after the shooting of Jacob Blake.
“If I believed that he would come with a message of healing and unity that would be one thing,” Lightfoot said, saying she agreed with Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers who urged the president not to visit.
“We need to figure out how we can build bridges to each other, we need to get rid of the divisive rhetoric,” Lightfoot said. “All that’s doing is deepening the despair that so many people feel.”
Trump is scheduled to arrive in the area Tuesday afternoon.
The president told reporters on Monday, “I’m going to a place where we moved very quickly — you know that — in Wisconsin. And we moved very, very quickly. And as soon as we moved, that was the end of that. It was very well behaved.”
Apparently referring to National Guard troops, Trump said he planned “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.”
Asked if he had concerns his visit would increase tensions and violence, Trump said “Well, it could also increase enthusiasm and it could increase love and respect for our country. And that’s why I’m going, because they did a fantastic job.”
During the Republican National Convention last week, Trump put Kenosha on a list of “Democrat-run cities,” including Chicago, that he criticized for their handling of “rioting, looting, arson and violence” over the summer.
Last week, Trump made no mention of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, who was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer, identified by authorities as Rusten Sheskey, on Aug. 23.
On Monday, the president said he spoke to the Blake family pastor, but would not be meeting with the family during his visit, because “they wanted to have lawyers involved, and I thought that was inappropriate, so I didn’t do that.”
A video of the shooting sparked daily protests and some violent confrontations between Black Lives Matter supporters and a militia group.
One night of unrest left two people dead and another wounded.
Preckwinkle said with the “volatile situation there” she didn’t see how “the president’s presence contributes to peace and harmony.”
“I think it’s a terrible idea, but I have no influence on the president’s decision making,” Preckwinkle said.
Some of Illinois’ top Republicans — including the chair of the Illinois Republican Party, Timothy Schneider; state House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and state Sen. Bill Brady — were not immediately available for comment.
Sean Morrison, chair of the Cook County Republican Party, said he supports the president visiting Kenosha because “offering empathy and support to the business owners and those left jobless as a result of the violence is certainly a very human thing.”
In a statement, Pritzker said “Trump has done nothing but inflame tensions using racism to rally his base and his presence in Kenosha will be more of the same.”
“The unrest he decries is of his own making,” Pritzker’s statement reads in part. “Kenosha needs healing, this nation needs healing. Trump should stay home.”