Update: On Wednesday, Kenosha police arrested 17-year-old "Blue Lives Matter" advocate Kyle Rittenhouse in relation to the protest shooting that happened the day before. An investigation into the event is still ongoing.
This story was originally published on August 26, 2020 at 12pm.
On Tuesday night, two people were killed and a third was injured after being shot during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. According to reports, one person was shot in the head, another in the chest, and a third in the arm. This occurred on the third day of demonstrations after a Kenosha Police Officer shot Jacob Blake — an unarmed Black man — seven times in the back while his children were watching. Blake is currently paralyzed.
Videos posted to social media appeared to show shooters firing at protestors just before midnight on Tuesday. According to police, the shooters are believed to be part of an armed militia group who told media that they were "protecting" businesses and storefronts from protestors.
After hours of standoffs between protestors and police, an argument erupted between a group of protestors and armed men in a gas station parking lot. According to The Washington Post, following the first shots fired, “a young white man carrying a rifle” ran away from a crowd of protesters before dropping to the ground. Then, several more shots were fired and two more protesters crumpled to the pavement. Graphic footage posted on social media shows a man shot in the head and protestors scrambling from the area after hearing gunfire coming from the gas station.
None of the names of the victims have been released, though the Kenosha Police Department reported that the third person who was shot is not in life-threatening condition. Kenosha Sheriff David Beth said that an investigation is already underway and will focused on those men with guns, specifically.
Officials are still trying to piece together a full account of the incident, with many residents and locals who were around sharing their experiences. Carol Badoni from Burlington, Wisconsin said that she started CPR on one of the wounded men whose girlfriend identified him as Ben. “He definitely was not breathing,” Badoni told the Post. “His eyes were rolled back in his head. There was no pulse… I never run toward trouble, but it’s worth getting shot for somebody else.”
In recent hours, other speculations about the men who shot at protestors have sparked concern. A widely circulated video shows law enforcement officers giving a group of armed men water bottles earlier in the night and telling them they “appreciate them being there.” A 29-year-old Marine veteran named Joe told the Post that there were “3,000 of us armed and ready” to protect Kenosha because “ain't nothing being done” by anyone else. It is unclear if the men interacting with officers in the video were related to shooters.
The shooting happened hours after a city-mandated curfew was in place and on Tuesday night, Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency. Protests had been tense all night, as police pelted protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets. Despite the violence inflicted on Blake by his police department, and the continued violence against citizens by officers during the protests, Sheriff Beth told the Times that the armed militia shooter was evidence as to “why you don’t deputize citizens with guns to protect Kenosha.”
But the city's unrest continues to stem from the horrifying footage of Blake's shooting and the mass number of unarmed Black men who have been the target of police violence. "They shot my son seven times — seven times — like he didn't matter," Jacob Blake Sr. said in a tearful press conference. "But my son matters. He's a human being. And he matters."