The New York Times Company
KENOSHA, Wis. — 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 overnight 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 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.
Mehlan said that just a half-hour before, he saw at least 20 cars pull up to a nearby gas station, break in and then head to the stores one block away. They entered the mattress store and set it on fire, he said.
In several other cities around the country overnight, there were demonstrations and, in some cases, flashes of destruction in protests that cited the shooting of Blake as the nation’s latest example of police violence.
In Kenosha, at least one sheriff’s deputy was injured in the neck by a firework that was set off. It was uncertain whether there were arrests.
Police offered little detail about what had happened in the shooting, saying only that an officer had shot Blake while responding to a domestic incident. Local and state officials have declined to provide information about the officers who responded.
Blake, 29, was in stable condition at a hospital. Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the family, said he had been told that Blake was attempting to intervene in an argument between two women when police arrived.
Kenosha, which has been engulfed in protests, unrest and destruction for two days, is under a curfew at night. Police officers attempted to disperse people who were standing outside, with little success. They used tear gas to try to clear people away.
Sheriff David Beth of Kenosha County said police were outnumbered.