The usually friendly community of Kenosha jumped into nationwide headlines in August 2020, following a string of violent race riots that brought the city to a halt for over a week. These events became one of the biggest highlights of 2020’s Black Lives Matter across the United States.
In Kenosha, however, many residents are still struggling to rebuild and recover what was lost during those chaotic days.
The Gunpowder and the Spark
On August 23rd, 2020, members of the Kenosha Police Department shot Jacob Blake while attempting to arrest him for domestic violence. He was 29 years old and had a warrant for his arrest due to third-degree sexual assault and criminal trespass. After the incident, Blake was taken to the hospital. He survived but was left partially paralyzed.
Although Blake had violently resisted arrest, this incident happened on the heels of other highly-publicized incidents where police shot people of African American descent. As a result, many citizens of Kenosha chose to protest peacefully, while others took the opportunity to set off more violent forms of unrest.
Between August 23 and September 1, repeated demonstrations led to nightly clashes with the police. Most residents likely remember those days very well. It’s not every year a small, middle-income city such as Kenosha has to call the National Guard.
The “Kenosha unrest” left two people dead, plus three others (including a firefighter) seriously injured. According to the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, property damages amounted to $50 Million.
What did this represent for Kenosha families? In many cases, lasting physical imprints remained, and livelihoods were lost. According to Evita Duffy from The Federalist, 40 local family-owned businesses were “closed for good” due to the riots.
Many of these businesses were already struggling due to COVID-19 lockdowns–but after the climate of fear spread around the city, they found it even harder to recover clients.
Apologies are Still pending; Healing is “in Process.”
Many citizens of Kenosha are still dealing with lingering symptoms of PTSD. In addition, others resent the lack of concern that the state and federal governments showed for the city.
Both Governor Evers and President (then candidate) Joe Biden made incendiary comments about Kenosha’s police officers and emboldened the rioters. Biden and other Democrats were attempting to ride the wave of radical social change that their voters demanded and sacrificed a small town in the process.
It may have felt as if only Kenosha people cared about Kenosha for some residents. This is a slightly bitter but essential reminder to hold in the wake of the upcoming April 5th local elections.
Image Credit: Photo by Alex Mccarthy on Unsplash