Pastors James Ward and Sharon Ward, who say they are the pastors for Jacob Blake’s mother, also joined Trump during the discussion on public safety. They were the only Black people seated at the raised platform.
A reporter asked the pastors whether they believed police violence was a systemic issue. Trump immediately interjected and answered the question. “I don’t believe that,” he said. “I think the police do an incredible job and I think you do have some bad apples.”
He added, “You do have the other situation, too, where they’re under tremendous pressure and they don’t handle it well. They call it choking and it happens.”
Trump also implied that his interactions with police gave him enough evidence to say that police violence was not a systemic issue. “No, but I don’t believe that at all,” he said to the reporter. “I’ve met so many police. I have the endorsement of like, so many, maybe everybody.” The pastors never got the chance to answer the question.
On Monday (Aug. 31), a day before his trip to Kenosha, Trump defended the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, a white 17-year-old who fatally shot two protesters and injured a third. The president blamed the civil unrest on “left-wing political violence.”
“He was trying to get away from them, I guess … and he fell,” Trump said, citing videos from the protest where a group of people attacked Rittenhouse. “And then they very violently attacked him.”
The president then claimed that the teen “probably would’ve been killed,” although he was armed with a semiautomatic rifle. “He was in very big trouble,” he said. “He probably would’ve been killed, but it’s under investigation.”