Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the Wisconsin city where three nights of rioting took place remained peaceful overnight as the number of people gathering dwindled to about 100.
Demonstrators defied the curfew imposed by Kenosha officials to try to keep the peace, assembling around a park near a courthouse that rioters set on fire on Sunday night.
Law enforcement officers occasionally rolled into the area in vehicles to make a handful of isolated, apparently targeted arrests of individual protesters, who were swiftly surrounded by police, grabbed, and whisked away.
Investigations into arson and other crimes committed earlier in the week are ongoing, authorities said at a briefing on Thursday.
The core group of remaining demonstrators, carrying a few “Black Lives Matter” signs and chanting, “No justice, no peace,” gradually diminished to several dozen huddled in the park as the night wore on.
Earlier Thursday, the Kenosha Police Department announced it had seized helmets, gas masks, protective vests, illegal fireworks, and suspected controlled substances from a minivan with out-of-state license plates. The vehicle was moving in concert with two others with out-of-state plates.
The Trump administration surged officers and agents to Kenosha this week and Michigan, Arizona, and Alabama National Guard troops were being added to the Wisconsin National Guard force already on the ground, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said.
Things calmed down Wednesday, with little violence reported. Demonstrators marched through residential areas, attempting to wake families up in their homes.
“Since Wednesday, the entire atmosphere of Kenosha has changed dramatically as far as the people who live here. And I think the crowds last night were small. There was a few hundred people and they walked peacefully through Kenosha and they did exactly what they wanted to do as far as the protest to make people know their concerns, but they did it without violence,” Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told reporters at the briefing.
In contrast to previous nights, “we didn’t see streams of cars coming in” from outside the county, he added.
“I can tell you from the law enforcement standpoint, the situation is much calmer,” Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said.
The chaos that started Sunday culminated in gunshots on Tuesday night. A 17-year-old Illinois teenager was arrested and charged with homicide and attempted homicide after allegedly killing two and wounding another. He is being represented by a prominent law firm, whose clients have included President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani.
The situation was sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, after police were called because a woman said he was at her home but shouldn’t have been.
Officers tried arresting Blake, deploying a stun gun, but he escaped and walked around his vehicle, opening the driver’s side door and leaning forward, investigators with the Wisconsin Department of Justice said.
“While holding onto Mr. Blake’s shirt, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired his service weapon seven times,” the department’s latest update stated.
Blake was rushed to the hospital and has undergone multiple surgeries.
He admitted to investigators that he had a knife in his possession.
Prosecutors are waiting for a report from the department before deciding whether to press charges against Sheskey, who was put on leave with the other police involved.
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Democrat, told reporters at a briefing Thursday that the investigation is ongoing, “but we don’t need an investigation to know that blight shooting falls in a long and painful pattern of violence.”
“And this is a pattern of violence that happens against black lives too often across this country,” he said.
Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said he was concerned by reports that Blake is handcuffed in his hospital bed.
“He’s paid a terrific price already been shot seven or eight times in the back. So I can’t imagine why that’s happening,” he said.
Blake was charged last month with sexual assault, trespassing, and disorderly conduct, according to a criminal complaint obtained by The Epoch Times.
Several Wisconsin police associations wrote a letter to the governor this week, describing remarks he’s made since the shooting as “premature, judgmental, inflammatory.”
“A continued pattern of statements and press releases based on opinion and unsubstantiated claims puts people’s lives at risk. These are not peaceful protests. There have already been two deaths and many injuries. Continued remarks like those already made by each of you have also put the lives of law enforcement officers, National Guardsman and the public at risk,” they wrote.
Evers insisted he was only “stating facts.”
“We have an African American man who was shot seven or eight times in the back. So as he was attempting to get into his car, and that’s what I said,” he said.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday, meanwhile, called for the resignations of Beth, Miskinis, and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, arguing they had mishandled the response to Blake’s shooting.
Reuters contributed to this report.