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Wisconsin governor declares state of emergency after nights of unrest over police shooting

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Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declared a state of emergency, saying he would deploy more state National Guard troops, as the city of Kenosha braced for a third night of unrest following the shooting of a Black man by police.

Evers said he would authorize an increase in the Wisconsin National Guard’s presence – more than 100 members were deployed on Monday – to 250. The move came as other officials called for a more forceful response after a night of looting and arson overshadowed peaceful protesters on the streets.

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“Essentially, our city was burned to the ground, building by building,” Kenosha County Board of Supervisors member Zach Rodriguez told Reuters. “Enough is enough.” Rodriguez said the board would hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday on seeking federal help because of concerns the governor was not doing enough.

Officials were preparing for a repeat of Monday night when smoke billowed over central Kenosha and police in riot gear clashed with protesters who defied a dusk-to-dawn curfew amid outrage over the shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, on Sunday afternoon.

Blake, who had been attempting to break up a fight between two women, was struck by four of the seven shots, all fired by one officer, in front of his sons aged 3, 5 and 8, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Blake family, told ABC News on Tuesday.

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Video captured by a neighbor shows Blake walking toward the driver’s side door of his SUV, away from two officers who were pointing guns at his back. After he opens the door and leans into the car, seven shots ring out, with one of the officers tugging at his shirt. The police have not explained why Blake was shot.

Crump said there was “no indication he was armed.”

Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, said he had been told by Blake’s father that Blake may have “temporary paralysis” in his legs, but that doctors hoped this may subside as swelling from his injuries goes down. “He’s strong and he’s a young man, so we’re just praying for a fast recovery,” the uncle told Reuters.

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The shooting is under investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which has not released any details. Kenosha police have referred all questions to the state investigators.

But the incident, the latest in a litany of cases to focus attention on police treatment of African Americans, unleashed outrage in Kenosha, a Lake Michigan city of about 100,000 people located between Chicago and Milwaukee.

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The shooting occurred three months after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.

Clyde McLemore, president of the Black Lives Matter chapter in nearby Lake County, Illinois, south of Kenosha, said demonstrators would be out again on Tuesday night, demanding that the officers involved in the shooting, who have been placed on administrative leave, be fired and prosecuted.

“We won’t stop protesting until we get that done,” he said. “I don’t condone burning of buildings or looting, but I understand it. Them places got insurance, they’ll be back up.”

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Unrest Across America

Unrest flared again elsewhere on Monday night in the United States with overnight clashes reported in Portland, Oregon; Seattle and Minneapolis. In New York City, marchers swarmed the Brooklyn Bridge, social media video showed.

In Kenosha a curfew set for 8 p.m. on Monday was largely ignored. As the evening wore on, the mostly peaceful demonstration turned violent, with some people setting off fireworks and others setting fire to buildings.

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Local police, supported by National Guard troops, fired tear gas, rubber bullets and smoke bombs to disperse the crowd, according to protester Porche Bennett, 31, of Kenosha.

Bennett said fires had destroyed much of the Black business district and that those she saw igniting fires were white. “It’s people from out of town doing this. We’ve been shopping there since we were kids, and they set it on fire,” Bennett said.

While acknowledging the First Amendment rights of protesters, Governor Evers said lawless behavior would not be allowed.

“There remains a line between peaceful assembly and what we saw last night that put individuals, families, and businesses in danger,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.

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(REUTERS)


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