Wisconsin Public Radio

Protests Were Peaceful Wednesday Night

Kenosha and Madison don't see the violence of the previous nights.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Aug 27th, 2020 12:45 pm
A protester who goes by Spaidez raises his fist as the protesters block off an intersection during their march Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Kenosha. Angela Major/WPR

A protester who goes by Spaidez raises his fist as the protesters block off an intersection during their march Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Kenosha. Angela Major/WPR

For the fourth night in a row, protests occurred in Kenosha on Wednesday night over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, but were mostly peaceful following Tuesday night’s fatal shootings and unrest.

At around 9 p.m. Wednesday, some protesters in Kenosha had been marching and chanting, defying the curfew, but there were few signs of police presence on the streets and no signs of violence.

A couple of hundred protesters gathered outside the Kenosha County Courthouse and marched around the city repeatedly, but police and National Guard soldiers mostly stayed out of sight.

Kenosha resident Porche Bennett was among those who gathered in the city square earlier in the evening. She urged people to go home to avoid violence.

“I don’t want what happened last night to happen again, you know what I mean? Now anything that happens after the curfew, when they see the peaceful ones leave … I hate to say it, but we’re not responsible for that. We want them to be safe and we want them to go home,” Bennett said.

Kejuan Goldsmith, 19, of Racine, was among those demonstrating. He said he wanted the officers who shot Blake to be punished.

Protesters march in the street Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Kenosha. Angela Major/WPR

Protesters march in the street Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Kenosha. Angela Major/WPR

“Right now, I want to see those officers arrested. That officer needs to be arrested or he needs to lose his job. Period. Nothing more, nothing less. The matter of fact that he’s sitting at home getting paid pisses me off and everyone out here off,” he said.

Sam Vong and his family have owned Madame Pho on Highway 50 and Interstate 94 for seven years. On Wednesday, they boarded up their windows before the city’s 7 p.m. curfew.

Sam Vong and his family boarded up Madame Pho in Kenosha on Wednesday night, Aug. 27, 2020.. Corrinne Hess/WPR

Sam Vong and his family boarded up Madame Pho in Kenosha on Wednesday night, Aug. 27, 2020.. Corrinne Hess/WPR

“For the first time ever, you feel like you live in fear in your own place,” Vong said. “I don’t know when it’s going to end. And I hope that it will end soon. We’re just waiting for someone to actually do something to actually help us as a small business.”

Vong said he doesn’t know exactly what happened between Blake and police, but he just wants to protect his family, employees and their customers.

“I wasn’t there, so I’m not sure what happened, but I feel like they were doing what they were trained to do,” Vong said. “Not all the people are bad and not all the people are good. It’s sad.”

As of early Thursday morning, there were no groups patrolling the southeastern Wisconsin city with long guns, as there were during previous nights of protests.

People in uniforms gather behind the Kenosha County Courthouse behind a large black fence that surrounds the building Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Kenosha. Angela Major/WPR

People in uniforms gather behind the Kenosha County Courthouse behind a large black fence that surrounds the building Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Kenosha. Angela Major/WPR

Protesters on Wednesday night also stayed away from a courthouse that had been the site of standoffs with law enforcement.

Gov. Tony Evers announced an increased National Guard presence in the city. The increase to 500 troops in Kenosha comes after two protesters died in a shooting the night before.

Earlier on Wednesday, law enforcement agencies announced at a joint press conference on Wednesday that the curfew for the city had been pushed up to 7 p.m., and that officers would arrest anyone in violation.

Suspect In Tuesday Night’s Shootings Was Arrested

Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, of Antioch, Illinois, was taken into custody on Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide in Tuesday night’s shootings. The teen was apparently a police admirer and is accused of shooting three protesters, killing two of them. Illinois authorities arrested Rittenhouse Wednesday on first-degree homicide charges.

Authorities haven’t released the names of the victims, but said the two men killed were a 26-year-old Silver Lake resident and 36-year-old Kenosha resident. A 26-year-old West Allis man was also shot in the arm and is expected to recover.

Madison Demonstration Remains Relatively Peaceful

In the state’s capital city, a crowd demonstrating for racial justice blocked traffic, but otherwise remained relatively peaceful in Madison’s downtown.

The crowd of 250 to 300 walked downtown streets chanting, giving speeches and urging onlookers in student apartment building to join them.

An organization called Impact Demand organized Wednesday’s protest. The group has been behind many of the protests since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

DOJ Officials Reveal New Details Of Blake Shooting

The nightly demonstrations began after police shot Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha on Sunday. Blake was injured in the shooting and was left paralyzed.

Josh Kaul speaks at a press conference Wednesday evening in Kenosha. Corrine Hess, WPR

Josh Kaul speaks at a press conference Wednesday evening in Kenosha. Corrine Hess, WPR

The Wisconsin Department of Justice released a new statement Wednesday evening that said one of the officers involved in the stop that ended with Blake being shot attempted to use a Taser to stop him from walking away, but it was unsuccessful.

Blake told police after the shooting that he was in possession of a knife. It’s unclear if officers thought the knife was on Blake’s person when he was shot.

The officer who on Sunday shot Blake in the back seven times was Officer Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department, said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul in the statement and at a press conference in Kenosha. Video of the incident circulated widely on social media and set off massive protests as well as vandalism and arson.

Kaul said after the events of the last several days, community members “deserve to have the opportunity to grieve. They deserve to have the opportunity to come together, to protest peacefully, to call for the change that they would like to see and ultimately to work to heal this community.”

Kaul released other details from the investigation into the police shooting in his 6 p.m. press conference:

  • Police were called to a residence in the 2800 block of 40th Street by a woman who said her boyfriend wasn’t supposed to be there. Officers then attempted to arrest Blake.
  • Before the shooting, Blake told officers he had a knife in his possession. Agents later recovered the knife from the driver’s side floorboard of his vehicle. There were no other weapons in the car.
  • The state Division of Criminal Investigations is leading the investigation, assisted by the FBI and other agencies. They aim to provide a report of the incident to a prosecutor within 30 days.

Officers including Sheskey are on administrative leave, Kaul said.

At Kaul’s press conference, Kenosha Urban League President James Hall urged protesters to respect the curfew, “so that no one else gets hurt.”

“Right now, Kenosha is emotional,” Hall said. “Right now, the country is emotional. We cannot continue to meet force with force … Change is now. If Kenosha can make this change, the entire country will follow.”

Protests In Kenosha, Madison Were Mostly Peaceful Wednesday Night was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

More about the Shooting of Jacob Blake

Read more about Shooting of Jacob Blake here

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