President Donald Trump has received backlash from critics over his response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake and subsequent visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, amid the civil unrest that the incident sparked.
He told reporters on Monday, however, that lawyers are interfering in attempts to communicate directly with Blake’s relatives and he has already had a conversation with a family pastor, as reported by The Hill.
“I spoke with the pastor”
The president arrived in Kenosha on Tuesday to survey the damage caused by destructive demonstrations over the preceding nights. He reportedly met with local law enforcement leaders and spoke to small business owners who suffered losses due to looting, arson, and other property crimes.
Blake, who was reportedly left paralyzed after the shooting last month, has served as the latest figure to unite protests against racial inequality and police brutality. As with demonstrations elsewhere across the U.S., however, the scene has frequently turned violent and destructive on the streets after dark.
In confirming his plans to visit the community this week, he told reporters during a press briefing on Monday that a meeting with Blake’s family was not on the agenda.
“Well, I spoke with the pastor,” Trump said. “A wonderful man — the family’s pastor.”
Noting that “there are lawyers involved,” he said any potential further meetings were not scheduled.
“They did have a lawyer”
“They wanted me to speak,” he said of Blake’s loved ones. “But they wanted to have lawyers involved, and I thought that was inappropriate, so I didn’t do that.”
Confirming that he felt he “had a great talk” with the family’s pastor, Trump noted that he had not ruled out a future meeting with others involved in the situation.
“And I may, at some point, you know, do that,” he said. “But they — they did have a lawyer that wanted to be on the phone, and I said, ‘No, that’s inappropriate,’ but I just gave my regards. But again, I spoke with the pastor.”
Blake’s family spoke out in the aftermath of the shooting, including his mother, Julia Jackson, who said she has the “utmost respect” for Trump and urged unity, not division, in the wake of her son’s shooting.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany noted that the president attempted to contact Blake’s family for several days to no avail. This aspect of the story makes few headlines, though, likely because it veers too far from the media narrative that Trump is fanning the flames of civil unrest across the country.