Last updated on August 28th, 2020 at 11:23 am
Governor Tony Evers said today he will send additional National Guard troops to Kenosha after three nights of violent protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake escalated Tuesday with two people killed and another injured.
Evers, who sent 125 National Guard troops to Kenosha on Monday and increased that to 250 on Tuesday, said today he will send a total of 500 National Guard troops to the city today.
In addition, President Donald Trump said today that he will send federal law enforcement to Kenosha, an offer Evers initially turned down on Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Fox News Tuesday night.
“We will NOT stand for looting, arson, violence, and lawlessness on American streets. My team just got off the phone with Governor Evers who agreed to accept federal assistance (Portland should do the same!)…Today, I will be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore law and order!,” Trump said today on Twitter.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that the White House today authorized sending up to 2,000 National Guard members from neighboring states to help contain unrest in Kenosha.
“It is a tragedy that two people had to lose their lives before Gov. Evers was willing to set aside politics and accept President Trump’s help to restore order in Kenosha. Violence and chaos like we’ve seen the last three nights do nothing to advance justice, and they drown out the voices of those protesting peacefully,” U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, said in a joint statement.
The state and federal moves came just hours after Kenosha County Board members requested 1,500 troops to protect a community battered by civil unrest over the last three days.
“Our county is under attack. Our businesses are under attack. Our homes are under attack. Our local law enforcement agencies need additional law enforcement to help preserve and save Kenosha County,” the board wrote in a letter to Gov. Tony Evers.
The letter also encouraged Evers to visit Kenosha to see “firsthand the destruction that has been inflicted on our community,” the letter states.
The County Board’s letter follows three nights of protests and unrest in Kenosha ignited by the shooting of Blake by Kenosha police on Sunday. In a video of the incident, Blake can be seen walking away from officers and opening his car door when an officer fired several shots into his back.
Blake is hospitalized at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa. His father said Tuesday that he is paralyzed from the waist down and that doctors do not yet know if the injury is permanent, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.
The shooting of Blake by the Kenosha police officer and the protests that followed is the latest civil unrest in a series of demonstrations across the country with many focused on police brutality and systemic racism.
Evers declared a state of emergency Tuesday after protesters looted, vandalized, and set dozens of buildings on fire throughout Kenosha. The governor called for protestors to be peaceful on Tuesday and upped the National Guard presence from 125 to 250 to protect “critical infrastructure” in the city.
The unrest in Kenosha escalated Tuesday night as two people were killed and another was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Kenosha police said Wednesday morning. The shootings followed a confrontation between protesters and armed men who said they were protecting a gas station, the New York Times reported.
A juvenile suspected of fatally shooting two people and wounding a third in Kenosha has been arrested and is being held in jail in Lake County Illinois, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Court records show Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, has been charged there as a fugitive from justice.
Community members say Kenosha’s Uptown Business District endured the most vandalism, with several fires still ablaze into Wednesday morning, said Alexandria Binanti, executive director of Downtown Kenosha, Inc., an economic development and downtown revitalization nonprofit organization.
“There’s graffiti on walls, bricks kicked in…one of our restaurants was burned down, one of our car lots in downtown was also completely destroyed and cars were smashed in everywhere and slashed tires. It looked like a warzone there for a day or so,” Binanti said of Tuesday’s widespread destruction.
Binanti has led a cleanup effort over the course of the protests, commissioning several volunteers and deploying raised funds for plywood to board up storefronts and other supplies needed to cleanup the city’s streets.
“We’ve had an incredible outpouring of donations, support and time from people in our city to just lend a hand,” Binanti said.
However, business owners and the community at large are still fearful for what may come in the days ahead with rumors swirling of “seven days of protests for the sevens bullets” fired during Sunday’s officer involved shooting
“Honestly, they’re scared,” Binanti said. “We’ve already had such a huge loss with (COVID-19) this year and we were just starting to feel confident in a rebound to get back to some normalcy and then this happened.”
Computer Adventure, an Uptown computer repair shop, was one of several businesses in the district that had been vandalized and looted on Tuesday. Pat Oertl, who started the business with her husband Eric Oertl 31 years ago, said Tuesday she felt helpless, adding that “it’s not stopping, nobody is doing anything,” she said.
“They stole every computer in here, our customer’s computers that we were working on, my laptop, every game system that we were repairing,” Pat Oertl said. “They stole everything that wasn’t nailed down and if it was nailed down, they smashed it to pieces. What lovely people in this world, I can’t believe it.”
Gravity Gaming Lounge sustained thousands of dollars’ worth of property damage, including several gaming consoles and computers looted from the business.
Community members have started a GoFundMe where about $17,000, but the business says while it appreciates the support, it will not be accepting donations.
“At this time, please do not donate anything as our costs are highly significant and as much as we appreciate the help and support we do not feel comfortable taking others money when we know everyone is struggling and not just us,” the business said in another Facebook post. “We care for the community and the last thing we want to do with our given times is take something that someone else is more deserving of in this time.”
Kenosha Chamber of Commerce president Lou Molitor said more than a dozen of his members have suffered at the hands of protestors following Monday and Tuesday.
“Really serious damage to where some of our (businesses) are probably thinking, with all due respect and with regret, they don’t want to reopen and that they just don’t want to do business in Kenosha,” Molitor said Tuesday afternoon. “Which is sad because we’re a great community.”