Police and protesters clash in Kenosha, Wisconsin for second night

Police and protesters clash in Kenosha, Wisconsin for second night
Protesters link arms in front of a police line outside the Kenosha County courthouse (Morry Gash/AP)

Anger over the shooting of a black man by police in a southeastern Wisconsin city has spilled into the streets of Kenosha for a second night.

Police once again fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters who defied a curfew, threw bottles and shot fireworks at law enforcement officials guarding the courthouse.

Protesters chanted, “No justice, no peace” as they confronted a line of law enforcement officers who wore protective gear and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the courthouse entrance.

Police first fired the tear gas about 30 minutes after the 8pm curfew took effect and protesters refused to disperse. But hundreds of people stuck around, lighting fires and screaming at police.

Earlier, Wisconsin’s Governor Tony Evers said 125 members of the National Guard would be in Kenosha by night with responsibility for “guarding infrastructure and making sure our firefighters and others involved are protected.”

The move came after protesters set cars on fire, smashed windows and clashed with officers in riot gear on Sunday night over the wounding of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, who was hospitalised in a serious condition.

A protester sits on a car in the city of Kenosha (Morry Gash/AP)

In a widely seen cellphone video made by an onlooker, he was shot, apparently in the back, as he leaned into his SUV while his three children sat in the vehicle.

Tensions flared anew on Monday after a news conference with Kenosha Mayor John Antarmian, originally to be held in a park, was moved inside the city’s public safety building.

Hundreds of protesters rushed to the building and a door was snapped off its hinges before police in riot gear pepper-sprayed the crowd.

Police in the former auto manufacturing centre of 100,000 people midway between Milwaukee and Chicago said they were responding to a call about a domestic dispute.

They did not say whether Mr Blake was armed or why police opened fire, they released no details on the domestic dispute, and they did not immediately disclose the race of the three officers at the scene.

The man who claimed to have made the video, 22-year-old Raysean White, said that he saw Mr Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before the gunfire erupted.

He said he did not see a knife in Mr Blake’s hands.

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian tries to speak to protesters (Morry Gash/AP)

The governor said that he has seen no information to suggest Mr Blake had a knife or other weapon, but that the case is still being investigated by the state Justice Department.

The officers were placed on administrative leave, standard practice in a shooting by police.

Authorities released no details about the officers or their service records.

Mr Evers was quick to condemn the bloodshed, saying that while not all details were known, “what we know for certain is that he is not the first black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called for “an immediate, full and transparent investigation” and said the officers “must be held accountable.”

“This morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another black American is a victim of excessive force,” he said.

Protesters hold up Black Lives Matter signs (Morry Gash/AP)

“Those shots pierce the soul of our nation.”

Republicans and the police union accused the politicians of rushing to judgement, reflecting the deep partisan divide in Wisconsin, a key presidential battleground state.

Wisconsin GOP members also decried the violent protests, echoing the law-and-order theme that President Donald Trump has been using in his reelection campaign.

“As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident,” Pete Deates, president of the Kenosha police union, said in a statement.

He called the governor’s statement “wholly irresponsible.”

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