House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Wednesday accused President Donald Trump of encouraging “vigilantes” to make situations worse in cities plagued by unrest and riots such as Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“What we saw in Kenosha breaks your heart; it does pierce the soul, as was said,” Pelosi told reporters during a telephone call organized by the campaign of Democrat president nominee Joe Biden. “But the encouragement that the president, the acquiescence if not more than that, that he gives to vigilantes coming in to make matters worse in these situations is something the president should be quelling rather than encouraging.”
Pelosi then issued praise for the family of Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old black man shot multiple times by police on Sunday.
“I do think what’s beautiful to hear, Mrs. Blake, speak as a mom,” Pelosi said of Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson. “I don’t know if you heard her speech, but she said this isn’t what we’re about. We’re not about rioting and destroying of property.”
“We all respect peaceful demonstrations. We don’t want them to be exploited by outside groups be they vigilantes and the rest to stir it on,” the speaker added.
Earlier Wednesday, a 17-year-old was arrested in connection with the deadly shooting of two people during the third consecutive night of riots in Kenosha, sparked by Blake’s shooting.
Kyle Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, was taken into custody in Illinois on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide. Antioch is about 15 miles from Kenosha.
Two people were killed Tuesday night and a third was wounded in an attack apparently carried out by a young white man who was caught on cellphone video opening fire in the middle of the street with a semi-automatic rifle.
“I just killed somebody,” the gunman could be heard saying at one point during the rampage that erupted just before midnight.
In the wake of the killings, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) authorized the sending of 500 members of the National Guard to Kenosha, doubling the number of troops. The governor’s office said he is working with other states to bring in additional National Guard members and law officers. Authorities announced a 7 p.m. curfew, an hour earlier than the night before.
President Donald Trump said Evers has accepted his offer to send federal forces to Kenosha after he reportedly turned down the assistance.
“TODAY, I will be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER!” the president tweeted.
“We will NOT stand for looting, arson, violence, and lawlessness on American streets,” he added. “My team just got off the phone with Governor Evers who agreed to accept federal assistance.”
The AP contributed to this report.