Kenosha unrest causes $2M in damage to city-owned property

Officials say damage to city-owned property from violence that erupted over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is estimated at nearly $2 million so far

The city's public works director, Shelly Billingsley, provided the estimate to local leaders Monday night on what it would cost to replace garbage trucks, street lights and traffic signals, among other things that were destroyed or damaged in the unrest last week.

The estimate was made as some Kenosha residents feared Tuesday's visit by President Donald Trump might lead to more destruction in the southeastern Wisconsin city after several days of peace. Others, however, welcomed the president’s trip.

Demonstrators have been calling for the Kenosha officer who shot Blake seven times in the back Aug. 23 to be fired and face attempted murder charges. A 17-year-old from northern Illinois is accused of killing two protesters on Aug. 25.

Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot while police responded to a call about a domestic dispute. His family held a community gathering at the shooting site Tuesday, about 2 miles (3.22 kilometers) from the area Trump toured.

The Blake family gathering had a community block party feel to it. Tables were set up where attendees could register to vote, get a haircut, or even get tested for the COVID-19 virus. One table was labeled as a craft table where people could write messages to put in Blake’s hospital room. A DJ played music nearby.

Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, said the event was focused on getting justice for “Little Jake” — not on Trump's visit. He also said it was designed to heal the city, and he urged supporters to press for change, but remain nonviolent.

Near the area Trump toured, a few hundred of the president's supporters and detractors engaged in shouting matches at times. Tensions temporarily rose as Trump’s motorcade rolled by, with his supporters clapping and others booing and cursing. But crowd sizes were modest and passions were mostly tempered.

At least two people were carrying pistols in holsters, telling those around them they were Trump supporters and had open-carry permits. By mid-afternoon much of the crowd dispersed.

Mayor John Antaramian has said the city will request $30 million in aid from the state to help rebuild in the aftermath of the unrest. Some of the city's garbage trucks, which were parked downtown to provide security and limit movement by protesters, were set on fire during the demonstrations.

Billingsley said they were insured and that city staff is working with the insurance company to log damage information, the Kenosha News reported. Some of the trucks, which had functioned as snow-plow vehicles in the winter, were also destroyed.

Billingsley said she hoped that the setback would not affect snow plow operations this winter. She told the Public Works Committee the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors could affect the timeline in obtaining the new trucks.

City staff continues to compile numbers from the damage, Billingsley said.