POLITICS

Mike Pence Says Little About Kenosha Violence, Hurricane Laura In RNC Speech

The vice president touted the need for "law and order" while downplaying the ravages of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Vice President Mike Pence barely touched on crises facing America ― including police brutality, racial injustices and Hurricane Laura ― in his speech that wrapped up Wednesday’s session of the Republican National Convention on Wednesday.

As he praised President Donald Trump at length, Pence glossed over the administration’s disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which still rages across parts of the country and as of his comments had claimed the lives of almost 180,000 U.S. residents.

Meanwhile, Texas and Louisiana residents braced for Laura, a Category 4 hurricane, to slam the coastline as the most powerful storm to hit the country this year.

“This is a serious storm,” Pence said from a podium at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. Pledging White House assistance, he added, “We urge all those in the affected areas to heed state and local authorities.”

Later, the vice president briefly mentioned the civil rights protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the Sunday shooting by a white police officer of Jacob Blake, a Black man, outside his car while his three children sat inside. Protesters have demonstrated in Kenosha for days after Blake was hit seven times in his back. He may be left paralyzed from the waist down.

In line with Trump’s messaging, Pence focused on the need for “law and order” instead of the reasons widespread protests ― overwhelmingly peaceful ― have erupted across much of the U.S. in recent months in response to high-profile shootings of Black people by police officers.

“Rioting and looting is not peaceful protest, and tearing down statues is not free speech,” he said, a reference to protests over racist Confederate statues that still litter much of the South and have at times been toppled.

″We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color,” Pence said, ignoring in his comments that two people in Kenosha were fatally shot and a third suffered a serious gunshot wound late Tuesday night as heavily-armed vigilantes who claimed they intended to protect local businesses confronted Black Lives Matter protesters.

Charged Wednesday in connection with the shootings was 17-year-old Illinois resident Kyle Rittenhouse who apparently was part of the vigilante group.

Police identified the deceased only as a 26-year-old Silver Lake, Wisconsin, resident and a 36-year-old from Kenosha, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. A 36-year-old from West Allis, Wisconsin, was wounded.

Hundreds of people had defied an 8 p.m. curfew Tuesday to attend the demonstration in Kenosha outside the county courthouse, and police later began deploying tear gas against the crowd ― pushing some down the street toward the armed vigilantes. Video posted to social media showed law enforcement officers embracing the vigilantes, with one saying, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.”

The night before, anti-racism demonstrations saw 34 fires set and 30 businesses either destroyed or damaged, according to The Associated Press. The city’s Department of Corrections was among those structures burnt down.

On Tuesday, Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers boosted the number of National Guard members present to 250 and declared a state of emergency.