The city of Kenosha, Wisconsin has become another U.S. warzone after a controversial police shooting, and a citizen of the community is asking when people will stop destroying each other.
Gary Schneeberger grew up in Kenosha, situated on Lake Michigan and home to approximately 100,000 people. He still lives in the area, too, and this week he has been nailing plywood to protect his business and his church from rioters and looters.
“My city looks like Beirut today,” he tells OneNewsNow. “It is unfathomable to me.”
Tuesday night marked the third straight night of protests, rioting, and looting after a Kenosha police officer shot and killed Jacob Blake, a black man, Sunday afternoon during a confrontation. Video footage, filmed from across the street, showed Blake walking away from police officers, who had their guns drawn, and he is shot repeatedly after ignoring them and reaching inside his parked car.
A second video, which came days later, showed Blake and police officers scuffling on the ground, behind the car, before he gets up and walks away. Like the first video shows, he is shot moments later.
‘This is not protesting’
The shooting set the city on fire. When the sun set on Sunday, the Great Lakes city that is proud of its lakeshore parks, historic lighthouses, and HarborMarket, witnessed the mobs hit the un-defended streets and begin their destruction.
“This not protesting. This is criminal,” the owner of a jewelry store told Fox6 News after looters fled with approximately $200,000 in jewelry after destroying the store.
The owner of a car dealership reported more than 50 automobiles were torched during the first night, and called what happened to his business “domestic terrorism.”
On the second night of rioting, Fox6 reported, the fire department responded to 37 fires and the city watched more homes and more businesses, and the Dept. of Corrections, go up in flames.
Social media tangles with reporter
On the third night of Kenosha riots, the rioters hit the streets – and came face-to-face with armed vigilantes -- after Gov. Tony Evers ignored pleas for more Wisconsin National Guard troops. He doubled their numbers from 125 to 250, when county leaders were pleading for 1,500 troops to control the public streets.
Media reports showed the small force of National Guard troops was deployed outside the county courthouse to protect it from arsonists.
In breaking news Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that Gov. Evers had agreed to "federal assistance" for the hard-hit city. A follow-up tweet clarified that federal law enforcement and more National Guard troops were headed to the city.
Far away from the county courthouse, armed vigilantes who said they were protecting businesses from looters made national headlines after one of them reportedly shot three rioters, killing one of them.
In an online report, a staff writer for The Washington Post stated on social media that the rioters were “protesters” who were the victims of “armed militia” that shot at the crowd after an armed man tripped.
“Video shows the armed man fall to the ground and then fire multiple rounds into the crowd,” Post reporter Jaclyn Peiser wrote in a Twitter post.
That claim was challenged via numerous social media posts that blasted Peiser for ignoring video footage showing a mob chasing the armed man, and two men attacking him after he fell despite the AR-15 rifle in his hands. Both men were shot by the gunman as he lay on the ground. Yet another video shows another gunshot victim throwing a Molotov cocktail at the gunman.
A gruesome photo of one of the supposed shooting victims shows a handgun in his right hand.
The reporter's version of the chaotic scene may be vindicated, however: The Associated Press reported Wednesday the young man, a minor, has been arrested and could be charged with first-degree intentional homicide.
Real 'discussion' means listening
According to Gary Schneeberger, other Kenoshans he has spoken with understand the anger and frustration over the shooting, but nobody is condoning night after night of violence.
“There's a lot of discussion about the shooting that has led to the protests and the riots. They are apples and oranges,” he insists. “Even if they are apples and oranges, the shooting and the response to it, the violent response to it, they're apples and oranges but they're both bitter.”
He is hoping someone can find a voice to speak to both sides of the divide he is seeing both in the community – and the nation – at large.
“Like so much of the ‘discussions’ we have in our country today, it's people not listening to other people but talking at other people,” he warns. “And there's a lot of that going on in the wake of all this, and that's sad.”