A group of armed protesters toting AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons were filmed facing off with an armored police truck in Kenosha before being forced to disperse after officers deployed tear gas grenades.
Footage of Monday night’s riots showed several demonstrators cornering a police BearCat vehicle that had been deployed to the streets of the city after protests over the shooting of 29-year-old unarmed black man Jacob Blake descended into violence.
In a video taken by a local reporter, a small group of men, many of them wielding firearms, were seen surrounding the police truck and blocking its path as they provoked cops and urged them to deploy tear gas.
‘Y’all better have gas masks on! Get ready!’ one man is heard telling the crowd as they braced for impact.
Seconds later, a cop was seen emerging from the hatch of the vehicle and hurling a canister in their direction, prompting them to disperse.
As smoke filled the air and protesters took off running, multiple shots were heard being fired in the background as the truck drove away.
Another man was also heard shouting in the distance: ‘F**king p**sies!’
BREAKING: Rioters corner police with assault weapons in Wisconsin
The scene was one of several dramatic clashes between civilians and police that took place on Monday after the city came under siege by angry protesters and rioters who took to the streets to set local businesses and vehicles alight.
Kenosha has become the nation’s latest flashpoint in a summer of racial unrest following Blake’s shooting by cops on Sunday – three months after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis that sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.
On Tuesday, President Trump, who has consistently denounced the Black Lives Matter protests that have rocked the country in recent months, urged Wisconsin officials to call in the National Guard to quell the unrest, despite troops already being on the ground.
‘Governor should call in the National Guard in Wisconsin. It is ready, willing, and more than able. End problem FAST!’ Trump tweeted.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows later revealed Governor Tony Evers had turned down Trump’s offer for federal assistance, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
A spokeswoman for Evers told the paper: ‘The governor informed them that we would be increasing Wisconsin National Guard support in Kenosha and therefore would not need federal assistance in response to protests but would welcome additional federal support and resources for our state’s response to COVID-19.’
On Monday, heavily armed residents were also seen standing guard outside buildings and local shops in case they were targeted.
In footage shared online, a group of men were seen carrying rifles and wearing combat gear as they protect local shops. They deny they are part of a militia.
One of the armed men in the footage taken Monday night says: ‘They’re destroying their own neighborhood. It’s not the civilians. Go f*** up the government that just killed your man. Don’t f*** up your neighbors.
‘I’m on your side but you can’t burn down your local businesses.’
Another adds: ‘We’re out here trying to protect residents, we’re trying to protect the innocent people and we’re trying to protect the businesses of the citizens out here.’
Some residents were harassed by the crowd for protecting a local business (not their own business)
¿We¿re out here trying to protect residents, we¿re trying to protect the innocent people and we¿re trying to protect the businesses of the citizens out here…¿ pic.twitter.com/1uNWHM6kNl
Kenosha County Board of Supervisors member Zach Rodriguez said the board would hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday on seeking federal help, such as U.S. Marshals Service officers, to quell the unrest after some 300 rioters looted businesses and set fire to buildings overnight.
‘Essentially, our city was burned to the ground, building by building,’ Rodriguez told Reuters. ‘Enough is enough.’
Firefighters from about 30 fire departments around the region came to Kenosha to help put out the blazes across swaths of the city.
Police first fired tear gas Monday about 30 minutes after the 8 p.m. curfew took effect to disperse protesters who chanted, ‘No justice, no peace’ as they confronted a line of officers who wore protective gear and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the courthouse entrance.
But hundreds of people stuck around, screaming at police and lighting fires, including to a garbage truck near the courthouse.
Police said they were responding to a call about a domestic dispute when they encountered Blake on Sunday.
They did not say whether Blake was armed or why police opened fire, they released no details on the dispute, and they did not immediately disclose the race of the three officers at the scene.
Gov. Tony Evers signed an order declaring a state of emergency Tuesday, calling on increased help from the Wisconsin National Guard. The Democrat warned: ‘We cannot forget the reason why these protests began, and what we have seen play out over the last two nights and many nights this year is the pain, anguish, and exhaustion of being Black in our state and country.
‘But as I said yesterday, and as I’ll reiterate today, everyone should be able to exercise their fundamental right—whether a protester or member of the press—peacefully and safely. We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue. We also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction.’
A city block was cordoned off Tuesday, so officials could survey damage. Several storefronts were badly damaged. Smoke filled the air and visibility was low as firefighters used water cannons on still smoldering buildings.
It is thought that the city, which is home to around 100,000 people, has so far lost a mattress store, church, Mexican restaurant, auto dealership and a cellphone shop in the raging fires, according to witnesses. Dozens of cars, traffic lights and windows have also been smashed by looters.
One of the buildings destroyed was the Wisconsin Department of Corrections’ probation and parole office. Most staff had already transitioned to working remotely, and all essential operations are continuing, said department spokeswoman Anna Neal.
Blake remains in intensive care following surgery and will require more operations, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Blake family, told ABC News on Tuesday.
Blake’s father told the Chicago Sun-Times his son was paralyzed from the waist down.
Crump said he had been attempting to break up a fight between two women when he was struck by four of the seven shots, all fired by one officer, in front of his sons aged three, five and eight.
Jacob Blake, the black man shot in the back by Wisonsin police as his three young sons watched on, is now paralyzed from the waist down after his body was riddled with bullets, his father says.
Blake’s father, who is also named Jacob Blake, told the Chicago Sun-Times that his 29-year-old son now has ‘eight holes’ in his body after being gunned down by police in Kenosha on Sunday evening.
The elder Blake said his son is paralyzed from the waist down but doctors do not yet know if the paralysis will be permanent.
Blake is now in a stable condition in hospital after undergoing surgery.
It comes after the emergence of a second video, which was taken from a different angle to the initial cellphone footage, that appears to show Blake wrestling with officers in the lead up to the shooting.
Both videos capture Blake walking to the driver’s side of his SUV and opening the door when the officer started shooting.
Blake’s father said he learned Sunday night that officers had shot his son and that he saw the now-viral cellphone video of the incident online just a few minutes later. Blake’s father is driving from Charlotte, North Carolina to Wisconsin to be by his son’s side in hospital.
‘What justified all those shots?’ his father said. ‘What justified doing that in front of my grandsons? What are we doing?
‘I want to put my hand on my son’s cheek and kiss him on his forehead, and then I’ll be OK. I’ll kiss him with my mask. The first thing I want to do is touch my son.’
After the first video went viral on social media, a second cellphone video emerged that appeared to show Blake wrestling with at least two officers beside the SUV prior to the shooting.
Blake managed to break free and was shown in the video walking to the driver’s side of his SUV.
Both videos show the moment Blake walked from the sidewalk around the front of his SUV to his driver-side door while officers followed him with their guns pointed as they shouted at him.
As Blake opened the door and leaned into the SUV where his three children – aged 8, 5 and 3 – were, an officer grabbed his shirt from behind and opened fire while Blake had his back turned. At least seven shots could be heard.
The officers involved have since been placed on administrative leave, which is standard practice in a shooting by police. Authorities released no details about the officers.
Kenosha police do not have body cameras but do have body microphones.
The man who said he made the initial cellphone video, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them yell: ‘Drop the knife! Drop the knife!’ before the gunfire erupted. He said he didn’t see a knife in Blake’s hands.
White said that before the gunfire, he looked out his window and saw six or seven women shouting at each other on the sidewalk.
A few moments later, Blake drove up in his SUV and told his son, who was standing nearby, to get in the vehicle, according to White. White said Blake did not say anything to the women.
White said he left the window for a few minutes, and when he came back, saw three officers wrestling with Blake. One punched Blake in the ribs, and another used a stun gun on him, White said. He said Blake got free and started walking away as officers yelled about a knife.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, representing Blake’s family, said Blake was ‘simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident.’
Police did not immediately confirm either man’s account. They did say, however, confirm they were responding to a call about a domestic dispute when they encountered Blake.