On Tuesday, the president stopped in the Wisconsin city to survey the damage caused during the riots in response to Blake's police shooting. Trump's visit has, of course, been met with criticism, as many believe his presence could spur further unrest within the region which has experienced riots, looting, and death within the past week. But rather than allow Trump to fan the flame, Blake's family organized an event that aims to celebrate and heal the Kenosha community.
According to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mitchell Armentrout, Blake's family hosted a block party/rally at the scene where the 29-year-old Black man was shot seven times by police officers. Blake's uncle Justin Blake told Armentrout the family wasn't "going to let anyone smudge my nephew's name."
ABC News reports the event included free food, voter registration booths, free haircut stations, coronavirus testing sites, and craft centers where attendees could write messages to Blake, who remains hospitalized due to his injuries.
Trump has left Kenosha, but the counterprogramming is still running strong. I came back to the block party, and it's still happening. Bounce house is gone, but there's still food, music, and people. I've now had about 5 separate people come up and ask if I'm registered to vote. pic.twitter.com/6qjNtvqTSN— でじこと Dexter Thomas (@dexdigi) September 1, 2020
Prior to his Kenosha visit, Trump announced he would not meet with Blake's family because they allegedly wanted lawyers present.
"I spoke with the pastor, wonderful man, the family's pastor, and I thought it would be better not to do anything where there are lawyers involved," the president said during a Monday press briefing. "They wanted me to speak but they wanted to have lawyers involved and I thought that was inappropriate so I didn't do that ... I may, at some point do that... but I just gave my best regards. But again, I spoke with the pastor."
Jacob Blake's father, Jacob Blake Sr., told CNN he wasn't concerned with meeting with Trump, as his focus is on his son.
"I'm not getting into politics," he said. "It's all about my son, man. It has nothing to do with a photo op."