The burned Car Source car lot on Sheridan Road has become one of the most visible symbols of the destruction caused by two days of rioting in Kenosha following the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer on Aug. 23.
With rows of burned vehicles, the lot on the northeast corner of Sheridan Road at 59th Street even began to attract disaster tourism, with people crossing caution tape to take photos among the wreckage.
“It doesn’t matter that the tape is up, they just walk in,” said Anmol Khindri, co-owner of the business. “They bring their nice, fancy cars and their fancy bikes and take pictures.”
For Khindri, the destruction of his business has created a financial nightmare, a situation made more complicated as the city has demanded he clean up the cars on the burned lot.
“The city just gave me a notice that we have to clean up the lot within a week, which is not possible,” Khindri said. “There is no way possible I can wrap it up in a week.”
Khindri said his insurance company initially denied coverage of the damage and fires, saying his insurance did not cover riot damage. Now, he said, he is working with a lawyer who is trying to negotiate with the insurance company.
While those negotiations are ongoing, he said, the insurance company does not want the burned cars moved.
“If something does go through, the adjuster is going to come ... to look at the cars,” Khindri said. “Another problem is the VIN (vehicle identification number), you can’t even read them because they burned. And, the records and the legal paperwork burned.”
City Administrator John Morrissey confirmed the city sent Car Source an order to clean up the lot. It was one of a series of raze orders sent to owners of buildings destroyed by fire during the unrest.
Morrissey said the city is trying to work with property owners to get properties cleaned up and destroyed buildings razed. He added that ultimately, as with any building destroyed in a fire, the property owner is responsible for cleanup.
For Khindri, who estimates he has $2.5 million in damages, the cleanup notice is the latest in a series of disasters that have been beyond his control. And he believes the city is in part responsible because they did not control protests that flashed into rioting.
“The problem is it (the lot) does look bad, but (the city) let it all happen. They don’t want to admit it,” Khindri said.
“What about me? I lost millions of dollars,” Khindri added. “It’s easy for them to write me a ticket over something I have nothing to do with.”
Owner could be billed for removal
Morrissey said a representative of Car Source contacted the city this week to explain its insurance issues. The company asked for four to eight weeks to clean up the lot.
“We’re going to work with him, but I don’t think another month or two is reasonable to get it cleaned up,” Morrissey explained.
The administrator said the city has contacted a company that can remove the burned cars from the lot and may ultimately contract hire it to do the cleanup if the owners do not. Those costs would be charged back to the property owner.
“He didn’t do this,” Morrissey said. “We understand that. But he does have to clean it up.”
Car Source has three locations along Sheridan Road, all three playing a role in unrest that brought an international spotlight on the city. The main lot with the burned cars was destroyed on the first night of rioting after Blake was shot.
Two days later, on Aug. 25, when militia groups answered a social media call to come to the city, some militia members — including Kyle Rittenhouse — gathered at the Car Source garage on Sheridan directly across the street from the burned lot. The Antioch teenager then shot two more people as he fled north on Sheridan Road.
Rittenhouse’s attorney has said that the owner of the garage asked the armed men Rittenhouse was with to protect his business. Khindri and his business partner have said in interviews that they did not ask militia members to protect their properties.
Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum at a third, much smaller lot that Car Source operates on the northwest corner of Sheridan Road and 63rd Street. In recent weeks, the company has moved more of the burned or damaged cars into the 63rd Street lot.
Khindri is frustrated more help has not been forthcoming.
An online fundraiser for the business has raised about $50,600. The state has provided $4 million for no-interest loans of up to $50,000 for cleanup and repairs. And Downtown Kenosha Inc. plans to use money it raised for grants for affected businesses.
“Why aren’t they helping me instead of fining me?” Khindri asked. “It’s crazy.”
“He didn’t do this. We understand that. But he does have to clean it up.”
John Morrissey, Kenosha city administrator
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