Following the previous two nights of rioting in downtown and uptown Kenosha, which resulted in the destruction of many businesses and the closure of several public buildings such as the Kenosha County Courthouse due to damages caused by the rioters, the city braced itself for another night of pointless violence.
In response to the rioting, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, authorized 125 troops from the Wisconsin National Guard to head over to Kenosha and protect critical infrastructure and assist the city's first responders, who are already stretched too thin. Officials from the city said that, along with the National Guard, 100 law enforcement officers from the county and the surrounding areas have also arrived to assist the KPD. (Related: Chaos in Kenosha: Wisconsin Gov. Evers sends in the National Guard to quell rioting and civil unrest.)
“We will continue to work with local, state and federal law enforcement in holding those criminals who are destroying our city responsible,” said Mayor John Antamarian, a Democrat, in a statement.
Since the KPD and the National Guard have been clashing with the rioters at the Kenosha County Courthouse, local officials thought it would be best to erect a fence around it in order to protect it from the violent mob. In response, the crowd immediately poured much of their anger at the fence, rattling it and threatening to tear it down until law enforcement officers in riot gear came out of the courthouse to deter them.
In order to reduce the likelihood of more arson attacks, by order of the KPD, the city's gas stations were shut down in the evening. While this may have prevented many rioters from lighting more properties on fire, some of them brought their own gas cans. According to police scanners, large caravans of cars with obscured license plates were even blocking off streets to prevent or slow down the arrival of law enforcement. Many of the rioters were also attacking officers by launching fireworks at them and pelting them with projectiles such as rocks and bottles.
At the same time that this was happening, Josh Binninger, 41, born and raised in Kenosha, stood in front of the parking lot of Ricchio AutoWorks along with around a dozen individuals – all armed – to protect it from looters.
“We're here because we just watched our hometown be terrorized and burnt down the last two days. We're not here to be agitators,” said Binninger, who was wearing a tactical vest and had an AK-47 slung across his chest. He was also instrumental in organizing more than 200 other people, all armed, to conduct similar deterring actions in front of other businesses and properties across the city.
“There's changes that need to be made and people need to come together as a community and support that,” Binninger continued, talking about how much he supported the peaceful protesters who were marching around Kenosha during the day. “[Kenosha] is not going to be another Portland.”
The past three days of rioting has caused the destruction of more than 30 businesses in Kenosha. However, the real number may be a lot larger, as officials still have not been able to tally how many businesses were torched and looted during the violence on Tuesday night. But people could see the signs of violence the morning after, as business owners, their neighbors and helpful members of the community aid tired first responders clean up the debris from the carnage.
Most of the property destruction occurred in the city's uptown neighborhood. Among the small businesses that burned down were a beauty shop, a restaurant and a smartphone store. A nearby Family Dollar store, one of the few places nearby were people can get groceries, was looted.
In response to the continued unrest, Gov. Evers signed an executive order on Tuesday declaring a state of emergency in Kenosha. Furthermore, under the executive order, the Wisconsin National Guard will be deploying an additional 125 members into the city, doubling the size of the current contingent. Evers said in a statement that adjustments to the number of guardsmen in the city can be made in the future to meet local demands.
“Everyone should be able to exercise their fundamental right [to free expression] – whether a protester or a member of the press – peacefully and safely,” said Evers in his statement. “We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue, but we also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction.”
While Evers is sending in more National Guard troops to Kenosha, he is still, however, refusing all federal assistance, according to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
“We have a National Guard unit standing by that, if the general for the Wisconsin National Guard needs additional help, we're there to do it,” he said, “but today, that request was denied by the governor.”
According to Evers' administration, he spoke with both Meadows and President Donald Trump on Tuesday. However, Evers claims that Meadows offered to send in law enforcement officers from the Department of Homeland Security, and not the National Guard. Evers' office claims that they declined the offer because they were already sending in the National Guard anyway.
In an interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson, Meadows said that he received pleas for help from Republican Rep. Bryan Steil, whose district covers Kenosha County and who was born and raised in the nearby city of Janesville, and Sen. Ron Johnson, also a Republican. In a message to the people of Kenosha, Meadows said that the Trump administration was willing to help.
“It's time that we take control,” he said. “And hopefully the number of National Guard they have in tonight will restore peace, but I'm not optimistic.”
Without significant support from the Trump administration, it is unlikely that the civil unrest in Kenosha will end on its own. Learn about what will happen next in this city by reading the upcoming articles at Rioting.news.