KENOSHA, Wis.—A number of Kenoshians have privately condemned the riots in their city and say they’re thankful for the National Guard’s presence, to which they attribute the peace that followed.
The Epoch Times attempted to speak to more than a dozen local residents and business owners over the span of a few days, but most declined to be interviewed due to privacy concerns and fears of retaliation. Some spoke off-the-record in support of the National Guard.
The small city of about 100,000 was visited last week by both President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Their stops in Kenosha came days after protests and violent rioting that shook the city.
During those riots, a multitude of local businesses were damaged by rioters. Some were set on fire, others were broken into and had their inventory stolen, while just a few remained unscathed. A handful of business owners declined to give interviews, even off-record.
In one business district hit by the riots, almost all buildings were boarded up with wooden boards. Not far from the district was a car dealership targeted by rioters and set entirely on fire. The dealership’s owner didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment from The Epoch Times.
One Kenosha business owner, who requested anonymity, said he felt the recent riots wouldn’t have happened, or at least not to the extent they did, if the governor had been quicker to accept National Guard assistance.
“When [the National Guard] came in on Wednesday—boom, it stopped,” he said.
Local residents were also hesitant to speak, some hastily moving away after declining to talk.
Biden supporters meanwhile told The Epoch Times they believed Trump’s visit to the city was a “divisive move.”
John Sherock, a local resident who runs his own cleaning service, said he was baffled as to why many seemed not to care about the property damage or livelihoods being ruined. Sherock, who said he has no political affiliation, said it was “really wrong” for out-of-state rioters to come in and destroy their city.
His sentiment was shared by other local business owners.
“We live here together in one city and know how to communicate different views without leaning towards violence, so we were very saddened to see people from other cities come in and take a lot of negative actions towards our town,” said Kelly Deem, owner of Elsie Mae’s Canning and Pies.
Out of the 175 recent arrests in Kenosha, 100 of the people were from out of town, according to Attorney General William Barr.
“I am appreciative that [Trump] is open to having dialogues with places that this is happening at,” Deem said. “Everyone has to come and meet. The governors need to meet with the president; these need to be conversations that are happening.”
She also urged rioters to take their anger and unrest and “put it into something that’s positive—good deeds,” adding that if they did, it might “be the tide that turns us around.”
Trump sent federal officers to Kenosha after the rioting had been happening for a few days, a delay he blamed on Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat. The president said his administration would provide economic aid in addition to helping with law enforcement.
Trump flew to Illinois and then was driven across state lines into Wisconsin on Sept. 1 to survey the damage in the city inflicted by rioters.
Two days later, former Vice President Joe Biden met with community leaders, business owners, and law enforcement officials inside Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha.
Biden also met with the family of Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old man who was shot by police in August, setting off protests, riots, and arson attacks in the city. Blake was a suspect in a felony sexual assault case who was shot by police while resisting arrest, according to police.