Protests continue in Kenosha, Wisconsin, although Thursday, Aug. 27, dawned calmly for the first time after a night of peaceful but unruly demonstrations since the police shooting of Jacob Blake over the weekend.
According to Reuters, the incident sparked three nights of violent unrest that included dozens of arsons, widespread vandalism, and businesses looted. Another shooting killed two people in Kenosha, a city of about 100,000 people on Lake Michigan, 40 miles south of Milwaukee.
The images of the confusing moment on Tuesday during the protests against the police attack on Jacob Blake show a young white man armed with an assault rifle shooting at protesters who tried to subdue him. He calmly walked away with his hands in the air and his rifle hanging in front of him.
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said in an interview with MSNBC that the suspect, later identified as 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch, Illinois, was apparently a member of a militia group that “decided to be a vigilante and take the law into his own hands and mow down innocent protesters.”
Preparing for the fourth night of possible unrest Wednesday, Gov. Tony Evers said he was doubling the National Guard’s strength and had ordered 500 soldiers deployed. At the same time, a curfew was imposed from sundown to an hour before dawn on Thursday.
However, some 200 protesters defied the curfew for hours after dark as they marched through the city’s streets. During the protests, there were no major incidents, as demonstrators walked around chanting “the lives of black people matter” and “no justice, no peace.” Simultaneously, the forces of law and order kept a low profile, not responding to provocations despite the curfew banning movement.
Tuesday night’s attack and Sunday’s police shooting of Blake, a 29-year-old African American who was paralyzed from the waist down, made Kenosha the latest focal point in the fight against the alleged racial injustice gripping the country since George Floyd’s death on May 25.
Regarding Sunday’s incident, a group of police officers went to a home after receiving a call for domestic violence. When they arrived at the scene, they found Jacob Blake, the alleged “attacker,” and tried to stop him, but he refused. An officer identified as Rusten Sheskey shot Blake while holding his shirt after the officers used a Taser gun without success, said the Wisconsin Department of Justice. State officials then recovered a knife from the floor on the driver’s side of the vehicle.
According to the Associated Press, the Department of Justice said it would send more than 200 federal agents from the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to Kenosha.
The White House said that up to 2,000 National Guard troops are available if needed. The Justice Department also announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI would conduct a civil rights investigation into Blake’s shooting in cooperation with Wisconsin state law enforcement agencies.