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KENOSHA — Firearms have been pulled on demonstrators multiple times in Kenosha on Sunday after a day of mostly peaceful protesting throughout the city. After sunset and after many of the daytime protesters went home, reports of violence escalated, including a report of a brick being thrown through the windshield of a police vehicle.
When protesters approached the Kenosha County Courthouse, a black sheriff's deputy came outside and said: "I'm going to tell y'all one thing. That thing that happened in Minnesota," referencing the death of George Floyd whose neck was knelt on for several minutes by a police officer who now faces a third-degree murder charge, "I feel you. I'm with you. That (expletive) ain't right ... I'm on both sides of this (shit)."
The deputy asked protesters to keep making their voices heard, but also to avoid violence and destruction. "We need to go out there and talk. We need to go get that training," referencing the improved training many protesters have demanded police officers undergo when it comes to dealing with use of force and with race.
A curfew was set to go into effect at 8:30 p.m. Sunday in the whole of Kenosha County. A curfew was also set to go into effect in the City of Milwaukee at 9 p.m. Sunday, the second straight night such an order was made.
In a public message, the Kenosha Police Department said "For the public's safety please comply with the order and remain home. If you are not at home please go home."
Hundreds of protesters marched through Kenosha, carrying signs decrying police brutality and chanting for hours throughout the afternoon. The protest was entirely peaceful until after 6 p.m.
"It was peaceful the whole time. Nobody was trying to fight the police or anything," said one of the demonstrators, a man in his 20s from Kenosha. "I was just out there supporting my city, that black lives matter and all lives matter ... Everybody was out there, every race, everybody supporting the cause."
Scanner reports indicated that a peaceful protest turned violent sometime after 6 p.m., with some demonstrators throwing rocks at officers.
While the protest was ongoing Sgt. Malecki of the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department said that law enforcement vehicles "are trying to control the flow. We are in no way trying to hinder" the protesters.
A protester, who attends Carthage College but did not want her name published, told The Journal Times that some "small pockets" of protesters may have been aggressive but that she didn't witness any of it. She said that at least twice in the early evening two different white men pointed a firearm at the crowd, and those were the first signs of unrest throughout the protest. She said that she was at the protest from around 3 p.m. until after 8 p.m.
"We were trying to protest peacefully," she said.
The male protester, who left the protest just after 7 p.m., said that the first man who pulled a large firearm near Roosevelt Elementary School on protesters was arrested after both sides told their stories to the police. The female protester said that the second man was arrested sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. after he also appeared to be pointing the gun at police who responded to the scene.
As of 7:50 p.m., a crowd was on Sheridan Road. At 8 p.m., the crowd had moved to 75th Street and 18th Avenue.
At 8:17 p.m., Kenosha law enforcement reported that a homeowner near the intersection of 55th Street and 33rd Avenue had pulled a shotgun on protesters, but no gunshots had yet been heard.
At least six different law enforcement agencies responded to the scene. "We've got a large group running toward the house now," one officer said, referencing the home of the individual who may have been wielding a firearm.
"We need more units here to converge back on the house," another officer said after asking for support from the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department to help with "disbursement."
At 8:23 p.m., shots were reported at 50th Street and 34th Avenue, several blocks away from the home that was being surrounded by protesters.
"The streets are getting more and more crowded," one officer said after giving directions to backup units.
"I've got reports of aiming and pointing (a firearm)," another officer said at 8:24 p.m., requesting more units to help clear the streets.
At 8:32 p.m., after Kenosha's curfew went into effect, the leaders of more than 100 demonstrators declared they would not leave until the man who allegedly pointed a gun at them was arrested, police said. One officer added that the incident was being investigated and that the man would likely be arrested. "We do have a valid complaint to arrest this guy."
Simultaneously, law enforcement was still planning to clear the streets with approximately 150 people remaining on foot "and a lot of vehicles along the road."
Another shots fired report came in at around 8:34 p.m., but it was not immediately clear from what location the report originated.
At 8:38 p.m., at least one team from the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department had arrived to aid with crowd control. Officers on scene continued reporting they needed more help to execute disbursement.
At 8:45 p.m., an officer reported that the crowd at 50th Avenue and 34th Street and dwindled down to about 50 and that "most of the vehicles have moved." Those who remained continued demanding that the man who allegedly pointed the firearm be arrested, according to scanner reports.
By 8:55 p.m., one of the large crowds had "completely dispersed except for about six people." At Welles Park, about 50 cars had gathered.
At 8:58 p.m., the majority of the protesters in cars appeared to be headed to Columbus Park, 2003 54th St. Minutes later, they were seen heading north.
At 9:07 p.m., the convoy of vehicles had reached 54th Street and Sheridan. At around the same time, shots were reported fired near the intersection of 61st Avenue and 22nd Street.
Almost a dozen gunshots were reported in just the first 12 minutes of the 6 o'clock hour.
Barricades have been set up along Sheridan Road, with most protesters still in vehicles. It appeared law enforcement was trying to force the convoy northward, but many had doubled back toward Downtown. Some had splintered off and headed toward Simmons Island.
At 9:34 p.m., multiple gunshots were reported coming out of a vehicle; the scanner report did not make it clear if this vehicle was part of any convoy. Four people also were reported to be carrying crowbars near Downtown. One minute later, somebody riding on a vehicle reportedly fell off near the intersection of 53rd Avenue and 22nd Street.
Fifty members of the Wisconsin National Guard have reported to Kenosha. They "will be supporting the Kenosha Police Department in an effort to preserve public safety," Capt. Joe Trovato said in an email at 9:38 p.m.
At 9:47 p.m., a police officer reported that bricks and bottles were being thrown at law enforcement. One brick reportedly smashed through a police vehicle's windshield.
At 9:54 p.m., two more riot squads were on their way from the Kenosha County Sheriff's Office.
At 9:55 p.m., a woman in a pink sweatshirt was taken into custody, according to scanner reports. Law enforcement was seeking this particular woman for at least half an hour, scanner reports indicated, but it was not immediately clear what made her a person of interest.
Throughout the 9 o'clock hour, Department of Public Works dump trucks and garbage trucks set up a perimeter completely surrounding the Kenosha County Courthouse. By 10 p.m., the area near Downtown where the courthouse is located had mostly been vacated.
After 10 p.m., police said they were going to search a vehicle on the east side where a gun was suspected to be. An officer on police scanner said they have probable cause to search.
As the night drags on, protesters remained mobile, moving toward the intersection of 18th Avenue and 52nd Street northwest of Downtown at around 10 p.m.
In the first few minutes of the 10 o'clock hour, riot teams were preparing to move to the northwest side where protesters were reportedly continuing to throw stones and rocks at officers. A second police vehicle has reportedly had its windows damaged, law enforcement reported over the scanner.
As of 10:12 p.m., law enforcement is trying to completely clear 52nd Street of all traffic. About two hours prior, it appeared they were trying to restrain the convoy of vehicles to Sheridan Road, but the attempt was unsuccessful.
"They are now throwing bricks at passing vehicles," one officer said.
San Luis Grocery Store, a Mexican grocer on 52nd Street, has been broken into, according to police scanner reports. Authorities apparently learned about the break-in via Facebook Live. Police said they cannot get squads close enough to intervene safely due to the crowd. A keyholder was reportedly on scene minutes later and ready to board up the store, but the crowd needs to be cleared first.
At 10:45 p.m., police said that when they arrived at a Walmart a group of people who were approaching it dispersed.
Traditional first responder work continued while others worked on controlling the crowds; a man fell down the stairs and injured his ankle at around 10:45 p.m. and called for aid.
About one minute after an officer reported seeing young people with at least one baseball bat in a parking lot — the group reportedly fled when they saw the police vehicle — a Verizon store in front of a Walmart and west of Highway 31 was reportedly being broken into with people wielding baseball bats at 10:52 p.m.
At 10:55 p.m., shots were fired reportedly by a someone who lived near where protesters were shouting. According to the dispatcher report, the shots were fired directly into the air in an attempt to scare off the agitated demonstrators; a vehicle fled the scene.