KENOSHA: Arsonists set buildings ablaze and torched much of the Black business district in a second night of unrest in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, triggered by the wounding of a Black man shot in the back by officers as his three young sons looked on.
Smoke billowed over central Kenosha after police in riot gear clashed with protesters who defied a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Monday night and into Tuesday morning, blocks away from where police gunned down Jacob Blake on Sunday.
Blake, 29, survived the shooting, which was captured on video, and was in stable condition following surgery, his father said.
But the incident, the latest in a litany of cases to focus attention on police treatment of African Americans, unleashed outrage in the lakefront city of Kenosha about 65 km south of Milwaukee.
The shooting occurred three months after the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who was pinned to the street under the knee of a white police officer, sparking nationwide protests against police brutality and racism in the United States.
Unrest flared again elsewhere in the country on Monday.
Police in Portland, Oregon, the scene of weeks of protests that have sometimes turned violent, declared a riot late on Monday and arrested many demonstrators after fires were lit at the offices of the police association.
President Donald Trump’s administration last month deployed federal forces to Portland to crack down on the protests.
FIRES, BASEBALL BATS
Black Lives Matter activists are demanding the immediate firing or arrest of the Kenosha officers, who have been placed on administrative leave.
Hours into the curfew, the mostly peaceful demonstration turned violent. Commercial and government buildings were set ablaze, along with vehicles in car dealership lots.
Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and smoke bombs to disperse the crowd, which grew to several hundred, according to protester Porche Bennett, 31, of Kenosha.
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 white and Black agitators. Black men swinging baseball bats broke traffic signals and street lamps. White and Black men with bats bashed in the headlights and windshields of a row of cars.
One white man riding a skateboard doused a government truck with an accelerant and set it on fire. Heavily armed white civilians stood guard in front of one business to protect it from vandals.
Kenosha, a city of 100,000 people, is nearly 12 per cent Black and about 67 per cent white, according to US Census data.
One large group of protesters skirmished in front of the courthouse with sheriff’s deputies firing tear gas and pepper balls into the crowd. Demonstrators hurled water bottles and firecrackers at the police.