Police and National Guard troops lined up outside of the court house in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Screen grab from youtube.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers responded Wednesday to an urgent request from local leaders in Kenosha to send additional National Guard troops to the city after three consecutive nights of protests and rioting caused widespread destruction and left two people dead.
In a letter sent to Evers Wednesday, the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors said the county and its businesses and homes are “under attack” and requested 1,500 National Guard soldiers be sent to the city immediately.
“Our county is in a state of emergency and we need additional law enforcement to help preserve and save Kenosha County,” the supervisors wrote. “We encourage you to visit Kenosha County and see firsthand the destruction that has been inflicted on our community.”
— Crisis Intel ? (@Crisis_Intel) August 26, 2020
On Wednesday morning, police arrested 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse in Antioch, Illinois — just south of the Wisconsin state line — and charged him with first-degree intentional homicide in the Tuesday night shooting that left two people dead and one with non-life-threatening injuries during a chaotic night in Kenosha, according to the New York Times.
Tuesday’s shooting occurred after demonstrators faced off with a group of armed men who said they were there to protect the area from looting. The Times reported that authorities said Rittenhouse was not a protester, but they did not say what he was doing at the scene.
In response to the violence and unrest, Evers authorized 500 National Guard soldiers to support local law enforcement in Kenosha County, according to a press release.
A Molotov cocktail appears to have been thrown at the shooter in Kenosha before he fired at the first victim. pic.twitter.com/DPVgjepDsb
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 26, 2020
“The governor is continuing to work with other states in facilitating additional National Guard and state patrol support,” the release said.
A video posted online shows a large group of protesters and armed men shouting back and forth Tuesday. At one point, one of the armed men in a ballistic helmet, plate carrier, and carrying an AR-style rifle yells at one of the other armed men to move back.
In another video, someone appears to throw a burning object at a man with a rifle as he runs away. As a truck obscures the view, gun shots ring out, and people can be seen scattering.
An apparent follow-up video from a different bystander shows a man taking his shirt off to apply pressure to the shot man’s wounds. Another person is seen running out of the camera’s view carrying an AR-style rifle. The clothing of the person who was shot appears to be the same as that of the man in the first video who yelled “Shoot me.” Toward the end of the video, the wounded man is seen lying on his back on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head and difficulty breathing.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 26, 2020
In the fourth video, one of the armed males is seen under attack by multiple individuals, one of them carrying a skateboard. A person with a rifle fires several shots at two individuals who are attacking him; one of them falls to the ground seconds later, and the other runs away. The person who shot his attackers is seen running toward armored police vehicles and squad cars, initially raising both hands then dropping them as the police vehicles speed past him.
Photos emerged of an individual wearing an orange bag, seemingly the same person who attacked the man with the rifle. In the photos, the man is seen holding a pistol and has a large wound to his right bicep.
⚠️WARNING: This video shows an armed white man in Kenosha shoot people at point blank range, walk away strapped w/ his AR-15 as 3 military vehicles drive right past him despite bystanders yelling that he just shot people. We are witnessing America on fire. pic.twitter.com/gLoXungGtE
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) August 26, 2020
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told the New York Times, “I’ve had people saying, ‘Why don’t you deputize citizens?’ […] This is why you don’t deputize citizens with guns to protect Kenosha.”
President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday, “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.”
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!)…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2020
In a later tweet, he added that he is sending federal law enforcement and more National Guard troops to Kenosha to bolster state and local agencies.
On Tuesday, Jacob Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, spoke addressed the violence and destruction during a press conference:
“My son has been fighting for his life, and we really just need prayers. As I was riding through here, through this city, I noticed a lot of damage — it doesn’t reflect my son or my family. If Jacob knew what was going on as far as that goes, the violence and destruction, he would be very unpleased. So I’m really asking and encouraging everyone in Wisconsin and abroad to take a moment and examine your hearts. Citizens, police officers, firemen, clergy, politicians — do Jacob justice on this level and examine your hearts. We need healing.”
Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.
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