Relative calm returned to Kenosha, Wisconsin, yesterday after multiple nights of looting and two violent deaths, even as activists pushed for charges against the white policeman involved in the shooting of a black man that sparked the unrest.
In an effort to retain a tenuous grip on order, officials said that Arizona, Alabama and Michigan would be sending National Guard troops to the city to augment the forces which until Wednesday night had struggled to keep the peace.
“Last night was very peaceful,” Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told a news conference. “Hopefully, we are over the hump of what we have to face.”
Kenosha’s first orderly night since the protests began came after Wisconsin Attorney-General Josh Kaul identified Rusten Sheskey as the officer who on Sunday afternoon fired seven shots at the back of Jacob Blake after the 29-year-old opened his car door.
Kaul also said investigators found a knife on the floor of Blake’s car.
That announcement – combined with the arrest of a 17-year-old suspect charged with homicide over the previous night’s gunfire – set the stage for what could have been another night of chaos in Kenosha, a lakeside city of 100,000 about 40 miles (60km) south of Milwaukee.
Shockwaves from the events in Kenosha were felt across the USas professional athletes, starting with National Basketball Association players, went on strike and anti-racism protests intensified in other cities.
Republican President Donald Trump sounded in on the boycotts yesterday, saying that the NBA had become “like a political organisation and that’s not a good thing.”
In Kenosha, after three nights of civil strife – including arson, vandalism and the shootings that killed two people on Tuesday night – calm took hold.
About 200 protesters defied a curfew and marched peacefully through city streets, chanting, “Black lives matter”, but law enforcement officers kept a low profile, and armed militia members were notably absent.
Prior nights drew an array of rifle-toting civilians, among them 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who was arrested on Wednesday on homicide charges in connection with Tuesday night’s shootings.
Rittenhouse, a police supporter, was arrested at his home in Antioch, Illinois, about 20 miles (30km) away.
At a news conference yesterday, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson lamented what he called a “pattern of killing black people” and blamed Trump for creating a culture in which police were encouraged to use excessive force.
“That climate, top-down, a kind of moral desert, hurts all of America,” said Jackson, who called for Shuskey and two other officers at the scene of Blake’s shooting to be indicted. “We need police that are not above the law.”
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