KENOSHA, Wis. – At least three garbage trucks were burned out Monday and several businesses’ windows were shattered during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the shooting of a Black man there Sunday.
The unrest stemmed from an incident in which police shot a man sometime after 5:11 p.m. local time Sunday. The encounter was partially captured in a video that showed an officer firing several shots at close range into the man's back.
Wisconsin officials identified the shooting victim as Jacob Blake, a Black man. He was in serious condition at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee as of early Monday morning, law enforcement said.
As of 9 a.m. Monday, garbage trucks blocked the street outside the County Courthouse, and about 16 sheriff’s deputies wearing helmets and holding shields were still standing outside the building.
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'I can’t believe this is in Kenosha. This is unreal.'
Onlookers came to witness the damage and take pictures. Others came with brooms and shovels to clean up the broken glass on the downtown streets.
Written with spray paint on the courthouse: “They kill us because they fear us, honor the dead” and “be water, spread fire.”
The smell of natural gas was in the air, and one truck of firefighters was on scene investigating.
Among the damaged buildings: the public library, the Dinosaur Discovery Museum, the Harborside Academy charter school, a law firm, the USPS building and the county register of deeds.
Many who walked up said they couldn’t believe the situation plaguing so many other American cities happened in Kenosha.
Howard Plain walked up to the courthouse unsure if it was open – he had a hearing set for the morning.
Plain, a Kenosha resident of eight years, said he used to live in Chicago and didn’t expect the violence to arrive in his city.
Plain said he watched the video of the shooting on Facebook last night and thought the officers could have deescalated the situation or used a stun gun instead of shooting Blake.
“The police could have handled it better,” he said.
David Ferguson of Racine rode his bicycle to the scene of the damage.
“I can’t believe this is in Kenosha. This is unreal,” he said.
Two burned-out garbage trucks and about 16 sheriff’s deputies with shields and tactical gear outside the #Kenosha County Courthouse this morning following the unrest last night. pic.twitter.com/VlzOSoxGV4
— Sophie Carson (@SCarson_News) August 24, 2020
He said police across the country are again and again treating white suspects with more respect than Black suspects.
“People are upset. It just keeps happening,” he said, surveying the damage.
He was horrified at the circumstances of the Kenosha shooting, with Blake’s children in the car.
“There’s got to be another way to resolve these issues. I mean, this is an epidemic,” Ferguson said.
Crowds gathered Sunday night
In the aftermath of the shooting Sunday night, large crowds soon gathered at the scene of the shooting. A livestream from podcaster Koerri Elijah showed small fires in the street and a person, possibly an officer, lying prone on the ground, surrounded by officers.
The crowds began moving away from the scene, and the video showed people walking down the sidewalk and street, some on bicycles with some vehicles accompanying them, occasionally chanting. The video showed people kicking at police vehicles and later it appeared some fireworks were set off.
"Things have been very heated, tons of damage to cop cars, an officer was actually knocked out," the person taking video said.
A crowd of about 100 had reached the Kenosha County Public Safety Building by 10:15 p.m. and were chanting "no justice, no peace."
A line of police flanked the building and faced off with the crowd, moving them back away from the building.
Kenosha County said Monday morning that the courthouse and administration building would be closed for the day because of damage sustained during the unrest. No hearings will be held today but other services would be available by phone or online.
The County of Kenosha declared a state of Emergency Curfew for 10:15 p.m., saying "the public needs to be off the streets for their safety." It was enforced until 7 a.m.
At 11:05 p.m., police began backing up in a cordon around the front doors of the police station and then set off teargas canisters as people ran in fear, trying to wipe their eyes.
At 11:15 p.m., a city dump truck that had been positioned to prevent traffic from heading toward the police department was fully engulfed in fire. Some people were getting close to take pictures until someone shouted that the gas tank could blow.
A big boom sounded when one of the tires blew up around 11:45 p.m., scattering the crowd.
The crowd had lessened by midnight to a couple hundred people who stood in the square next to the courthouse watching city dump trucks become engulfed in flames.
At 12:21 a.m., a few hundred people could be seen milling around the courthouse, which was tagged with graffiti condemning the shooting and police.
Someone set a fire outside the courthouse. Officers arrived extinguished; soon after, officers also began firing what appeared to be tear gas canisters.
Protesters then began smashing windows at the administration building near the courthouse. Officers formed a line behind a police vehicle and continued to deploy what appeared to be tear gas or smoke bombs.
According to a Facebook livestream by Mercado Media, police shortly before 1 a.m. were asking for voluntary cooperation to disperse the area and leave the park.
"This is an unlawful assembly. Please leave the area," police could be heard telling the crowd as gas canisters were fired their way.
At 1:21 a.m., police formed a riot line and began moving into the park across the street from the courthouse. A few minutes later, a firework went off in the crowd.
People continued to move through the city. Before 2:30 a.m., the livestream showed a truck had been set on fire in the parking lot of a car dealership a few blocks from the courthouse.
Other cars were set on fire and occasional pops and explosions were heard as the fire burned through the lot, sending plumes of smoke into the sky. A fire truck arrived around 2:50 a.m. to begin extinguishing the blaze.
A little after 3 a.m., the fire had spread to the Bradford Community Church, the marquee of which had read Black Lives Matter before being incinerated. The men livestreaming attempted to alert anyone inside the building but received no response, then tried to smother some of the flames using shoves while flagging down a lone fire truck that had arrived near the car dealership.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kenosha protests escalate after police shoot Black man Jacob Blake