Arsonists torch US city’s business hub during riots

Published August 26, 2020
Flares go off in front of a Kenosha Country Sheriff Vehicle as demonstrators take part in a protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US on August 25, 2020. — Reuters
Flares go off in front of a Kenosha Country Sheriff Vehicle as demonstrators take part in a protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US on August 25, 2020. — Reuters

KENOSHA: Authorities in Kenosha, Wisconsin, braced themselves for more unrest after arsonists torched much of the city’s Black business district on Monday following the shooting of a Black man in the back by police.

Kenosha’s local administration said it was considering seeking federal help, such as Marshals Service officers, after some 300 rioters looted businesses and set fire to buildings overnight.

“Essentially, our city was burned to the ground, building by building,” an official said. “Enough is enough.”

Smoke billowed over central Kenosha after police in riot gear clashed with protesters as they defied a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Monday night and Tuesday morning, near where police gunned down Jacob Blake, 29, on Sunday.

Blake, who had been attempting to break up a fight between two women, was struck by four of the seven shots, all fired by one officer, in front of his sons aged 3, 5 and 8, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Blake family, told ABC News on Tuesday.

Video captured by a neighbour shows Blake walking toward the driver’s side door of his SUV, away from two officers who were pointing guns at his back. After he opens the door, seven shots ring out, with one of the officers tugging at his shirt. The police have not explained why Blake was shot.

Crump said there was “no indication he was armed.”

Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, said he had been told by Blake’s father that Blake may have “temporary paralysis” in his legs, but that they hoped this may subside as swelling from his injuries goes down. “He’s strong and he’s a young man so we’re just praying for a fast recovery,” the uncle said.

The shooting is under investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which has not released any details. Kenosha police have referred all questions to the state investigators.

But the incident, the latest in a litany of cases to focus attention on police treatment of African Americans, unleashed outrage in Kenosha, a Lake Michigan city located north of Chicago and south of Milwaukee.

The shooting occurred three months after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2020

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