The intersection outside of the court house where one of the city dump trucks burned. Screen grab from youtube.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers activated the state’s National Guard Monday in response to civil unrest in the area of Kenosha County, Wisconsin. The action came after local officials requested assistance with the rising numbers of protesters and rioters throughout the county.
Protesters took to the streets after Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times Sunday as the 29-year-old Black man ignored the officers’ commands, opened his driver’s-side door, and reached into his vehicle. Video footage of the incident went viral, reigniting racial tensions and protests against police brutality.
In Kenosha, protests devolved into rioting Monday night. Businesses were looted and burned, and violence escalated as law enforcement and National Guard troops protected federal, state, and local structures and properties.
“I know folks across our state will be making their voices heard in Kenosha and in communities across Wisconsin,” Evers said in a press release Monday. “Every person should be able to express their anger and frustration by exercising their First Amendment rights and report on these calls to action without any fear of being unsafe. This is a limited mobilization of the National Guard focused on supporting the needs of local first responders to protect critical infrastructure, such as utilities and fire stations, and to ensure Kenoshians are able to assemble safely.”
“By early Tuesday morning, the National Guard rolled through the streets as multiple buildings burned to the ground and looters ransacked stores,” the Washington Post reported. Videos and photos on social media showed Monday night’s damage included destroyed small businesses and living areas (homes/apartments) and destruction of city property.
The Kenosha County Court House appeared to be the epicenter of the night with several protesters and rioters gathered. City dump trucks were used at an intersection outside the courthouse to block the roadway. Later in the night, some of the dump trucks were set ablaze.
“Citizen soldiers from the Wisconsin National Guard are serving in a support role and assisting local civil authorities in preserving public safety and the ability of individuals to exercise their First Amendment rights to peacefully demonstrate,” said Wisconsin National Guard Deputy Director of Public Affairs Capt. Joe Trovato in an email. Trovato said, for operational security reasons, he couldn’t discuss troop numbers, movements, specific mission sets, procedures, timelines, or locations, but PIX11 news reported that there are 125 National Guard troops on the ground in Kenosha.
Requests to the Kenosha Police Department for further information on Monday night’s events were not returned at the time of publication.
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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