US President Donald Trump has branded the Democratic mayor of Kenosha “a fool”, accusing him of standing up for “radical anarchists”.
Mr Trump claimed, without evidence, that Kenosha would have been “burnt to the ground” by protesters were it not for the National Guard.
The Wisconsin city saw days of violence after Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot in the back by police.
Mr Trump is visiting the city, despite appeals from the mayor and governor.
The president is pushing a strong “law and order” message ahead of November’s election.
“I think a lot of people are looking at what’s happening to these Democrat-run cities and they’re disgusted,” Mr Trump said before boarding Air Force One to fly to Wisconsin.
“They see what’s going on and they can’t believe what’s taking place in our country. I can’t believe it either.”
Although Mr Trump claimed he sent the National Guard into Kenosha, they were actually deployed by Wisconsin’s governor and supported by 200 federal law enforcement officials ordered in by the president.
He cited reports that protesters had tried to break into the house of Kenosha’s Democratic Mayor John Antaramian.
“I saw last night where these radical anarchists are trying to get into the mayor’s house and lots of bad things were happening to this poor foolish, very stupid mayor. I mean how he can be mayor I have no idea.
“They had tremendous numbers of people really harassing him horribly and I guess trying to break into his house and he still sticks up for them because he’s a fool. Only a fool would stick up for them like that.”
The claim of the break-in attempt is unconfirmed.
Mr Trump said he was visiting the city “for law enforcement and for the National Guard”.
“They’ve done a great job in Kenosha. They have put out the flame immediately,” he said.
In Kenosha the president is meeting police officers but not the Blake family. He said previously it was because relatives had wanted lawyers present.
Over the weekend Mayor Antaramian said it was not a good time for Mr Trump to visit.
“Realistically, from our perspective, our preference would have been for him not to be coming at this point in time,” he told National Public Radio.
Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers also warned against the visit, saying it would “hinder our healing”.
The president visited areas damaged in the protests and met local business leaders.
“These are not acts of peaceful protest but really domestic terror,” he said at a round table meeting on “community safety”.
Mr Trump said his administration would provide nearly $4m (£3m) to help Kenosha businesses that had been damaged in the riots and $1m for city law enforcement.
Earlier, in In an interview with CNN, Mr Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr, said his son’s life was more important than a meeting with President Trump.
“I’m not getting into politics. It’s all about my son, man. It has nothing to do with a photo op,” he said.
Mr Blake Sr said his son was still paralysed from the waist down, “holding on for dear life”.
Jacob Blake, 29, was shot several times in the back by a police officer during an arrest, as Mr Blake tried to get into a car where his three children were seated.