President Donald Trump’s visit to Wisconsin, which was set for this Thursday, was canceled after thousands of protesters threatened mass demonstrations.
Trump planned to meet with local business leaders and deliver a speech on the economy in Milwaukee, in what would have been his first scheduled trip outside D.C. since his inauguration.
As word of the president’s visit was announced on Monday, a group called the Milwaukee Coalition Against Trump quickly organized protests through social media. Within 24 hours, around 5,700 people had expressed interest in attending.
Reporters from the Chicago Tribune spoke with Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, of the 128th Air Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard in Milwaukee, who confirmed the cancellation and described it as unexplained. An administration official, however, told CNN that staff at the Harley Davidson factory the president was due to visit were nervous of the protest.
In a contradictory statement, White House deputy press secretary Stephanie Grisham denied that the Trump has backed down because of the protest: “Due to scheduling, the leadership he was potentially traveling to meet with is now coming here.”
Trump’s political opponents and critics within the Democratic National Committee remain unconvinced, calling him out on his apparent hesitancy to deal directly with the American people.
“Donald Trump is a real tough guy when it comes to locking up a scared five-year-old boy trying to find his mother,” DNC Senior Adviser Zac Petkanas said. “But as soon as he has to face the American people to defend his illegal anti-Muslim ban he chickens out. What a profile in courage.”
After news of the cancellation broke, the Milwaukee Coalition Against Trump took to Facebook to celebrate their success.
“The Milwaukee Coalition Against Trump is thrilled that Trump has been forced to cancel his visit to Milwaukee, one of his first press events outside of Washington D.C. … Trump’s unpopular policies have ignited an unprecedented resistance movement that will block his every move. We hope our success in Milwaukee sets the tone for the rest of Trump’s [presidency].”
Widespread protests have been a feature throughout the president’s first week-and-a-half in office, mainly provoked by his controversial travel ban, which was ushered in on Friday with an executive order that bars citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.