President Donald Trump has defended the actions of a 17-year-old accused of killing two people at a Black Lives Matter protest by suggesting he acted in self defence.
Trump claimed to a press conference that Kyle Rittenhouse ‘probably would have been killed’ if he had not opened fire with an illegal gun during last week’s protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of father-of-three Jacob Blake.
Rittenhouse was charged with intentional homicide on Wednesday, after Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, were shot dead and a third victim was left seriously injured.
The US president told DailyMail.com during a press briefing: ‘He was trying to get away from them I guess, it looks like, and he fell on then they very violently attacked him.
‘It was something that we are looking at right now and it’s under investigation, but I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would’ve been killed. It’s under investigation.’
Pictures have since emerged of Rittenhouse in the front row of a Trump rally in Des Moines, Iowa, in January – just seven months before the fatal shootings.
The teenager has declared himself a fan of the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ countermovement
Eyewitnesses claim Rittenhouse approached police officers with his arms in the air following the shootings and was allowed to pass through. He then fled the scene and crossed a state line back to his home in Antioch, Illinois.
The US president’s comments come ahead of his visit to Kenosha on Tuesday – despite being urged by officials to cancel amid unrest in the city.
Democratic Wisconsin governor, Tony, Evers wrote to Trump on Sunday, urging him to reconsider his plans.
He wrote: ‘I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state.
‘I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.’
Black Lives Matter protesters have taken place every night in the city after Mr Blake, 29, was shot in the back seven times by police in front of his three children in the city on August 23.
He has been left paralysed from the waist down and was reportedly only released from handcuffs attached to his hospital bed at the weekend.
The police officer accused of shooting Mr Blake, Rusten Sheskey, was put on administrative leave pending an investigation into the incident.
There are no plans for Trump to meet with Mr Blake’s family during the visit, and he is understood to be opposed to their wishes to have attorney Ben Crump – who represented George Floyd’s family – involved in any meetings.
But Mr Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, told CNN that the family did not want to meet the president because he’s a ‘racist who stokes racial tensions’.
He said: ‘He has been stirring racial tensions since he got in the White House. Why, as Jacob’s uncle, would I want to talk to him?
‘Our focus is on Jacob and healing the community.’
Joe Biden yesterday condemned the violence at recent protests but in the same breath blamed Trump and called him a ‘toxin’ who is deliberately fanning violence across the US.
The Democratic nominee for president at the November election said Trump was incapable of tackling the violence if he’s re-elected, as he’s ‘rooting for chaos’.
Biden named the victims of police killings and brutality including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.
During a campaign stop in Pittsburgh, Biden said: ‘He doesn’t want to shed light, he wants to generate heat, and he’s stoking violence in our cities.
‘Fires are burning and we have a president who fans the flames instead of fighting the flames.
‘He can’t stop the violence because for years he’s fomented it.’
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