Fact Checking Trump’s Statements on Protests and Violence

President Trump toured Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday, to survey damage caused by the unrest that followed the police shooting of a Black man in the city last week. He discussed some of the same topics at a news conference on Monday. Here’s a fact check of his remarks.

what Mr. Trump Said

“My administration coordinated with the state and local authorities to very, very swiftly deploy the National Guard.” — in a round table in Kenosha on Tuesday

“If I didn’t INSIST on having the National Guard activate and go into Kenosha, Wisconsin, there would be no Kenosha right now.” — in a tweet on Monday

False. Mr. Trump is taking undue credit for the relative calm that has settled this week over Kenosha, a city roiled by protests and violence last week. The governor, not the president, sent the National Guard to Kenosha. And the presence of guardsmen was not the sole factor in tamping down the violence.

On Sunday, Aug. 23, a white police officer shot and partially paralyzed Jacob Blake in front of his children. Protesters, reacting to the shooting, clashed with police officers, smashed car windows and set fires and officers dispersed the crowds with tear gas and rubber bullets.

On Monday, Aug. 24, Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin authorized the state National Guard to support local law enforcement. Protesters and police continued to clash, and city officials later described that Monday as the peak of the chaos and “our big night.”

A day later, Mr. Trump urged Mr. Evers to send the National Guard, even though he had already done so. Mr. Evers declared a state of emergency and increased the size of the guard deployment to 250. Two men were killed and another seriously injured in shootings. Sheriff David Beth of Kenosha County noted the presence of out-of-town counterprotesters that night and said they “create confrontation” and “that doesn’t help us.” Mr. Beth also said tactics like securing cooperation from local residents and blocking off interstate highways proved to be effective in reducing the violence.

Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Illinois who signaled support for pro-police causes, was arrested in the killings on Wednesday morning. The Justice Department sent about 200 federal agents to the city that night. Protests continued, but Mr. Beth said they were “very peaceful.”

Mr. Evers again increased the number of National Guard members deployed to Kenosha on Thursday. The governors of Arizona, Michigan and Alabama also sent National Guard troops to Kenosha, after Mr. Evers requested their assistance as part of a mutual aid compact.

Protests that night were “much calmer, much safer,” Daniel Miskinis, the Kenosha police chief, said in a news conference on Friday.

At the same news conference, Maj. Gen. Paul E. Knapp, who commands the Wisconsin National Guard, noted that about 1,000 members of the state’s guard were on the scene and said it was the governor who made the final call on the guard’s deployment.

what Mr. Trump Said

“I mean, you look at Minneapolis, they should have acted much quicker. When we got the National Guard in there, it took literally half an hour. You saw the scene. They formed, they walked, it was over and they haven’t had a problem of any consequences since.”
— at the Tuesday round table

False. Again Mr. Trump is taking undue credit for relative calm in Minneapolis, after protests over the police shooting and death of George Floyd.

Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota activated the state’s National Guard on May 28, three days after Mr. Floyd’s death. The guard tweeted at about 4 p.m. local time that it was ready to respond to the governor’s request.

Mr. Trump tweeted around midnight telling Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis to “get his act together” or “I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right” — an hour after the state National Guard said it had deployed 500 members to the city.

what Mr. Trump Said

“He didn’t mention the far left, or, from what I saw, I don’t believe he mentioned the word ‘antifa.’ Antifa is a criminal organization, and he didn’t mention antifa thugs, but mostly seemed to blame the police and law enforcement.”
— in a news conference on Monday, discussing remarks by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

This is misleading. While Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, did not say the words “far left” or “antifa,” he did condemn violence and rioting multiple times and did not “mostly” blame the police.

“I want to make it absolutely clear, so I’m going to be very clear about all of this, rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple,” Mr. Biden said in a speech on Monday.

Mr. Biden spoke several times of the need for police reform. But he also said: “I’ve worked with police in this country for many years. I know most cops are good, decent people. I know how they risk their lives every time they put that shield on and go out the door. I’m confident I can bring the police to the table as well.”

what Mr. Trump Said

“Joe Biden and his party spent their entire convention spreading this hateful and destructive message while refusing to say one word about the violence. They didn’t even discuss law enforcement, the police. Those words weren’t mentioned.”
— in a news conference on Monday

This is exaggerated. Unlike the Republican National Convention, the Democratic National Convention did not stress law enforcement. (The coronavirus pandemic dominated the event.) But Mr. Trump is wrong that the police were not mentioned or featured at all.

On the first night of the convention, Mr. Biden hosted a conversation about policing. The chief of police for Houston, Art Acevedo, spoke of creating standards for the police, which he said “is what everyone wants, including all the good cops that are out there, that thankfully there are more of them than there are bad cops.”

Mr. Biden agreed and added, “Most cops are good, but the fact is the bad ones have to be identified and prosecuted and out, period.”

A video during the third night about Mr. Biden’s role in writing the Violence Against Women Act noted that “he brought together law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates and survivors” to pass the law. Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic nominee, also urged Americans to cast a ballot for Mr. Biden and “vote for law enforcement purged of racial bias that keeps all our streets safe.”

what Mr. Trump Said

“When I signed the executive order outlining 10-year prison sentences, as an example, for destroying monuments and statues, it immediately stopped.”
— in a news conference on Monday

This is misleading. The executive order Mr. Trump issued on June 26 was narrow, did not create any new penalties and did not stop all acts of vandalism.

It directed the Justice Department to prioritize investigating and prosecuting damage to government property, including memorials and monuments. As the executive order itself notes, existing law authorizes up to 10 years imprisonment for “willful injury” of federal property and some state-maintained veterans monuments. The order “is not intended to, and does not, affect the prosecutorial discretion of the Department of Justice with respect to individual cases.”

Protesters continued to topple Confederate monuments in July, for example, in Washington, North Carolina and Louisiana.

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