US City Guards Against Protests over Police Shooting of Black Man

25 August 2020

Wisconsin officials are readying for more violence after two nights of unrest in the city of Kenosha. The unrest began after police shot a Black man in the back as his three sons watched on Sunday.

Zach Rodriguez, a local leader, said the city might look for federal help after some 300 people set fire to buildings and attacked businesses Monday night.

"Essentially, our city was burned to the ground, building by building," Rodriguez told Reuters news agency. "Enough is enough."

Smoke rose over central Kenosha after police officers clashed with protesters near where Jacob Blake was shot. Police said the protesters were violating a night-time curfew.

Protesters take cover from tear gas fired by police outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis.
Protesters take cover from tear gas fired by police outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, late Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis.

Blake remained in a hospital intensive care room after doctors operated on him. The 29-year-old would require more operations. Lawyer Ben Crump, who represents the Blake family, spoke to ABC News. Blake's father told The Chicago Sun-Times newspaper his son was unable to move any part of his body from the waist down.

Crump said Jacob Blake had been attempting to break up a fight between two women when he was wounded. He was struck by four of the seven shots, all fired by one police officer, he added. His sons, aged 3, 5 and 8, witnessed the shooting.

"You can only imagine the psychological problems these babies are going to have for the rest of their life," Crump said.

Video captured by a neighbor shows Blake moving away from two officers who were pointing guns at his back. He walks toward the driver's side door of his sports utility vehicle. After he opens the door, seven shots are heard. One of the officers is seen pulling at Blake's shirt. It remains unknown what the officers may have seen inside his car.

There was "no indication he was armed," Crump said.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the incident. The department has yet to release any details. Kenosha police have directed all questions to the state investigators.

The incident is the latest in a series of cases to focus attention on police treatment of African Americans.

The shooting took place three months after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota incited nationwide protests against racism and police violence.

Unrest in other US cities

There was more unrest in the United States Monday night, with clashes reported in Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington and Minneapolis. In New York City, marchers demonstrated on the Brooklyn Bridge, social media video showed.

Portland has been the scene of weeks of often-violent protests. Police there once again declared a riot late on Monday and arrested several demonstrators after fires were lit at the offices of a police labor union.

Seattle police said demonstrators set several buildings on fire, resulting in at least one arrest and one officer injured.

Black Lives Matter activists are demanding the immediate dismissal or arrest of the Kenosha officers. Police officials have placed the officers on administrative leave.

Hours into the curfew, the mostly peaceful demonstration turned violent with some protesters setting off fireworks.

Local police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and smoke bombs to break up the demonstration, said Porche Bennett, a protester from Kenosha. National guard troops reportedly provided support to the police. Fires destroyed much of the Black business district, Bennett said, adding that the instigators she saw were white.

"It's people from out of town doing this. We've been shopping there since we were kids and they set it on fire," Bennett said.

Social media images showed both whites and Blacks causing the unrest. Black men swinging baseball bats broke traffic signals and streetlights. White and Black men attacked a row of cars.

Heavily armed white civilians stood guard in front of businesses. At least one man was injured, shown on social media bleeding from the head, as civilians offered aid.

I'm Mario Ritter, Jr.

Stephen Maturen reported on this story for Reuters news agency. George Grow adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

arsonist – n. someone who sets illegally fires to buildings and other things

shirt n. a piece of clothing worn on the upper body

indication n. sign

focus – n. the center of interest or activity

scene – n. the place where an incident takes place

district – n. an area of a city of country; neighborhood

shopping – n. the activity of purchasing goods from stores

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