Kenosha Residents Decry Violence, Look for Healing After Riots

'We have to love each other, not judge one another and point fingers at one another,' one resident says

Kenosha Residents Decry Violence, Look for Healing After Riots
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he tours an area affected by civil unrest in Kenosha, Wis., on Sept. 1, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Bowen Xiao

KENOSHA, Wis.—John Sherock, a local resident who runs his own cleaning service, says he's appalled by the recent riots in Kenosha and 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, was among a crowd of pro-Trump sign holders, standing opposite a group of people wearing clothing supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, near the Kenosha County Courthouse.

Similar groups were gathered at most intersections in the city ahead of President Donald Trump's Sept. 1 visit to Kenosha. Among others with the president were acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, Attorney General William Barr, and Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis.

"I see darkness," Sherock told The Epoch Times on Sept. 1. "I think it's really wrong. ... People are coming from other cities and destroying those cities. They have identified those arrested and they were mostly all out of state."

 John Sherock, a Wisconsin resident near the Kenosha County Courthouse on Sept. 1. (Bowen Xiao/The Epoch Times)
John Sherock, a Wisconsin resident near the Kenosha County Courthouse on Sept. 1. (Bowen Xiao/The Epoch Times)

During a community safety roundtable in Kenosha on Sept. 1, Barr denounced the violence in the city of 100,000, saying it was another "hijacking" of protests by a "hardcore group of radicals."

"These are the same people, many of them who came from out of town. Out of 175 arrests, 100 were from out of town," Barr said. "These are the same people using the same tactics that have been used in various cities: Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, now Kenosha, Portland.

"And they use these black-bloc tactics, throwing projectiles at police and literally trying to inflict injuries on police, arson, and rioting."

Sherock said he came to the event to spread spiritual positivity, and said he respects those individuals who are seeking peace and unity, but that overall some groups "are doing it in the wrong way." He pointed out the many outside the courthouse who were yelling obscenities at pro-Trump supporters.

"We have to love each other, not judge one another and point fingers at one another," he said.

Michael Beal, a protester from Milwaukee, said he felt like he needed to travel to Kenosha due to the unrest across the country, and criticized Trump for visiting at this time.

"I think it was to fan the flames more than anything else," he told The Epoch Times. "I don't feel like it was in the interest of bringing unity, bringing people together."

Trump flew to Illinois and then was driven across state lines into Wisconsin to survey the damage on the city inflicted by rioters in the days following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

After touring buildings reduced to rubble by fires, Trump told a group of business owners and managers: “We’re going to work with you. We’re going to help you, OK? We’ll help you rebuild.

"It’s a great area. It’s a great state. This should never happen. A thing like this should never happen.”

Trump sent federal officers to Kenosha, but only after a few days of rioting, a delay he blamed on Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat. The president said his administration would provide economic aid in addition to help with law enforcement.

Terry Schimke, a Trump supporter who traveled to Kenosha from Milwaukee, criticized the state authorities, saying they could have done more to stop the rioters.

"It's devastating, it's a tragedy that the local government and the state government did not prevent this from happening," Schimke told The Epoch Times.

Schimke was among the group outside the Kenosha County Courthouse who came to show support for the president's visit.

"In America, we have the right to protest, but when violence comes in, it's not a protest anymore," he said. "They are damaging private property, they are causing injury to the people and cities, ruining businesses."

Schimke said he does believe there's an element of racism that should be dealt with, but he doesn't believe the riots are the "right way to go about it."

Prior to Trump's visit, Evers had urged the president not to visit the city, claiming an in-person appearance would lead to further divisiveness. Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, a Democrat, also said Trump shouldn’t visit.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report. 
Bowen Xiao was a New York-based reporter at The Epoch Times. He covers national security, human trafficking and U.S. politics.