KENOSHA, Wis. - Governor Tony Evers declared a state of emergency Tuesday, Aug. 25 after some protesters vandalized businesses and set dozens of buildings on fire in a city where police shot a Black man multiple times, apparently in the back in view of his children. Some Kenosha County leaders said Tuesday they also want federal authorities on the ground.
President Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter Tuesday evening.
According to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' aide, local law enforcement in Wisconsin told the White House they need at least 750 National Guard Tuesday night. Gov. Evers is only sending 250, up from 150 Monday night. On Tuesday, Meadows' aide said Meadows called the governor and offered 500 additional National Guard members to meet the police needs, and Evers declined.
The shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday in Kenosha was captured on cellphone video and ignited new protests over racial injustice in several cities, just three months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police touched off a wider reckoning on race.
Kenosha fire officials said they responded to 37 fires on the second night of violent protests in Kenosha Monday. Buildings and tensions continued to smolder Tuesday.
"They could have prevented this," said Lonnie Stewart. "The mayor and the chief of police could have prevented this."
Police first fired tear gas Monday about 30 minutes after the 8 p.m. curfew took effect to disperse protesters who chanted, “No justice, no peace” as they confronted a line of officers who wore protective gear and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the courthouse entrance. But hundreds of people stuck around, screaming at police and lighting fires, including to a garbage truck near the courthouse.
Tensions had flared anew earlier Monday after a news conference with Kenosha Mayor John Antarmian, originally to be held in a park, was moved inside the city’s public safety building. Hundreds of protesters rushed to the building and a door was snapped off its hinges before police in riot gear pepper-sprayed the crowd, which included a photographer from The Associated Press.
City vehicles set on fire in Kenosha
Police in the former auto manufacturing center of 100,000 people midway between Milwaukee and Chicago said they were responding to a call about a domestic dispute when they encountered Blake on Sunday. They did not say whether Blake was armed or why police opened fire, they released no details on the dispute, and they did not immediately disclose the race of the three officers at the scene.
The man who said he made the cellphone video, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!" before the gunfire erupted. He said he didn't see a knife in Blake's hands.
The governor said he has seen no information to suggest Blake had a knife or other weapon, but that the case is still being investigated by the state Justice Department.
The officers were placed on administrative leave, standard practice in a shooting by police. Authorities released no details about the officers and did not immediately respond to requests for their service records.
"Charge the cop," said Stewart. "The world seen him do it. If you don't arrest him, they're going to tear your town apart."
Kenosha County Supervisor Zach Rodriguez
"It's going to be hard to justify it, based on what I know, but that's just it," said Kenosha County Supervisor Zach Rodriguez. "I don't know what he may have been carrying."
"I don't want it to be done with haste, but at the same time, Mr. Blake deserves justice if he's deserved that," said Rodriguez of the investigation.
In addition to Gov. Evers' request for 250 Wisconsin National Guard members in Kenosha Tuesday night, up from 150 Monday night, Rodriguez called for help from the feds.
"Is it the US Marshal Service, is it somebody throughout their Homeland Security?" said Rodriguez. "I don't know."
Afraid of a third night of violence, some Kenosha residents blamed outside agitators for the majority of the destruction, and encouraged them to either remain peaceful or leave.
"That's not bringing people together," said David Montgomery, pastor of Kingdom Word Ministries. "That's causing division. It's destroying the community."
County officials once again declared a state of emergency curfew for 8 p.m. Tuesday everywhere east of I-94.