Kenosha, Wisconsin (NBC) (08/25/20)— A day after a police officer shot a Black man multiple times in the back, law enforcement deployed what appeared to be tear gas as protesters defied a curfew in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Multiple fires were burning at buildings in Kenosha lat Monday night, NBC affiliate WTMJ reported, but it was not clear how or when they started.
Several parked vehicles not far from the courthouse were in flames about 11 p.m., according to video and an NBC crew at the scene.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Tony Evers authorized the National Guard to help local law enforcement respond to the protests.
NBC affiliate WTMJ of Milwaukee tweeted video of what was reported to be tear gas being deployed near the courthouse shortly before 9 p.m., about an hour after a curfew went into effect.
Protesters converged on the courthouse and threw objects at police Monday, The Associated Press reported. Protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” minutes before the 8 p.m. curfew.
But hundreds of people stuck around, screaming at police and lighting fires, according to the news agency.
Evers announced the National Guard activation earlier Monday after dump trucks were set on fire in a surge of anger that followed the shooting of Jacob Blake, age 29. The mayor said a police officer was struck with a brick but had recovered.
Blake’s shooting was captured on cellphone video by a bystander and posted to social media Sunday afternoon.
The clip, which was shot from across the street, showed an officer, who has not been identified, following Blake as he marches to the driver’s-side door of an SUV.
As Blake gets into the car, the officer, whose gun is drawn, grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire.
Blake’s family has said he is out of surgery and in serious but stable condition.
It is not clear what happened before the clip began. A lawyer for Blake’s family, Benjamin Crump, said in a statement that Blake was helping to “de-escalate a domestic incident” when police used a stun gun on him. As he walked around his car to check on his three sons, who were inside, the officer shot him at point-blank range.
The police department in Kenosha, a city of about 100,000 midway between Chicago and Milwaukee, said in a statement Sunday that the shooting happened after police responded to a “domestic incident.”
The officers involved in the encounter were placed on administrative leave while the state Justice Department and the local district attorney’s office investigate.
The police department forwarded a request for comment to the state Justice Department.
State Attorney General Josh Kaul declined to say Monday whether Blake was armed when the officer opened fire.
“We won’t comment in a way that will impact the integrity of the investigation,” he said.
In a statement Monday, the Milwaukee Police Association said that while video “may show some troubling things, protesting must remain calm. It must remain peaceful.”
The statement urged officials not to comment or rush to judgment.
“By rushing to judgement, without knowing all of the facts, this will only fuel the cause of others to protest in a manner that isn’t peaceful,” the association said.
A curfew that was imposed on the city Sunday remained in effect Monday, beginning at 8 p.m. and lasting until 7 a.m.
Evers said in a statement that the National Guard troops would help protect critical infrastructure and ensure that “Kenoshians are able to assemble safely.”
Images posted on social media Monday night showed what appeared to be hundreds of protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse. “Justice for Jacob,” they could be heard chanting. More than a dozen officers in tactical gear surrounded the entrance.
Kenosha police tweeted a plea that people stay home and said multiple roads were blocked.
Justin Blake, Blake’s uncle, in Kenosha called for peace Monday night and urged people to contact their elected representatives and work for change.
“We want these young people to vent and voice their opinion — that’s what America is all about,” Justin Blake told WTMJ. “We just want them to do it safely. But we want justice.”
“This isn’t just Jacob Blake,” he said. “This is all of the children that walk out their doors in the morning, and their mothers and fathers have to worry about it because of the color of their skin.”
Elsewhere in the country, protesters decried the shooting. In New York City, hundreds gathered in Times Square in support of Blake.
And across the country in San Diego, about 50 people protested outside police headquarters. Police said one person was arrested and accused of striking an officer with a cane and two others were arrested and accused of resisting or obstructing police. Video showed officers pushing demonstrators, at least one was holding a shield.
Demonstrators also gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Monday night.
Blake was shot about three months after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Floyd’s death, which was also captured on video, sparked months of protests over racial justice and police violence.
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