Wisconsin city burns after shooting
An afternoon that had begun with peaceful marches in protest of a police shooting gave way to fires, destruction, and looting in Kenosha as a strip of businesses in a central residential neighborhood was consumed in flames early Tuesday.
Residents emerged from their houses around midnight to gape at billowing smoke that could be seen for miles. Lost in the blaze, neighbors said, was a mattress store, a storefront church, a Mexican restaurant, and a cellphone store. Less than a mile away, a probation and parole office was also on fire.
A line of National Guard members, called to Kenosha amid rising tension over the shooting on Sunday of Jacob Blake, a black resident who was shot by a white police officer, prevented anyone from getting close as firefighters worked to douse the flames.
“This is our town,” said Mike Mehlan, 33, a chef, as he stared at the buildings, stunned. “People have lost their damn minds.”
Mehlan said that just a half-hour before, he saw at least 20 cars pull up to a nearby petrol station, break in and then head to the stores one block away. They entered the mattress store and set it on fire, he said.
The worst destruction was limited to a relatively small area of the city, which is home to about 100,000 people, and some neighborhoods of Kenosha were quiet. At least one officer was injured in the neck by a firework that was set off. It was uncertain whether there were arrests.
One resident said he had little problem with burning businesses to spur social change and reform to policing. “It’s unfortunate, but it has to be done,” said Wayne Gardner, who lives around the corner.
In Portland, Oregon, several fires were set near the Portland Police Association building, and the police warned protesters in a post on Twitter: “This is now a RIOT. Leave the area now.” “Multiple arrests” were made, the police said. And in Madison, Wisconsin, about 4,000 people gathered near the State Capitol and marched downtown, some smashing glass storefronts and setting dumpsters ablaze.