Two dead as gunfire erupts at Wisconsin protests over shooting of black man

A third night of street protests over the police shooting of an African American man erupted into gun violence late Tuesday and early Wednesday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two people and wounding one, police said.

Social media videos show chaotic scenes of people running and screaming amid a volley of gunfire and others tending to gunshot wounds.

The bloodshed followed a night of skirmishes that had appeared to turn calm, settling down after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who defied a curfew.

The shooting that broke out shortly before midnight killed two people and wounded a third who was expected to survive, the Kenosha Police Department said in a statement.

A protester wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt holds up a phone as he stands in front of riot police.
Protests continue over the Sunday shooting of Jacob Blake by police officers.(AP: Morry Gash)

Crowds chased a man running down the street with a rifle after they believed he had shot another man. One pursuer took a flying kick at him after he fell to the ground and another tried to grab his weapon.

He appeared to be shot at close range and fell to the ground.

Kenosha has been rocked by protests since Sunday, when police shot Jacob Blake in the back at close range as he walked away from two officers and opened his car door, according to a bystander video that went viral.

Three of his young sons were in the car, witnesses said.

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The shooting is under investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which has not released any details.

Mr Blake, 29, was hit by four of the seven shots fired and left paralysed and “fighting for his life,” his family and lawyers said on Tuesday, hours before the latest round of civil unrest broke out in the lakefront town between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Anti-racism protesters also clashed with police in Portland, Oregon, and Louisville, Kentucky as part of a wave of national protests that have continued since the May 25 death of an black man in Minneapolis, George Floyd, who was pinned to the street under the knee of a white police officer.

Police arrested more than 60 people in a protest march in Louisville, Kentucky, organised for Breonna Taylor, a black woman killed in March by police officers who burst into her apartment.

An armoured vehicle from the Kenosha County Sheriff in front of an unarmed protester.
Anti-racism protests continue across the United States.(AP: David Goldman)

‘They’re like a vigilante group’

The Kenosha protests have drawn self-styled armed militias to patrol the streets.

Usually white men, they have weapons slung over their shoulders or at the ready while standing guard outside businesses to protect them from looters or arsonists.

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“They’re like a vigilante group,” Mr Beth told the Journal Sentinel, though he said he was unsure if the man at the centre of the outburst was linked to such a group.

Mr Beth predicted the main suspect would be caught, telling the newspaper: “I feel very confident we’ll have him in a very short time.”

Videos showed the suspect running with his rifle and others giving chase, believing he had already shot someone.

The gunman warded off his pursuers by firing at them at close range and the crowd dispersed. Other shots were heard in the background.

“Stay down, stay down!” someone yelled.

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Mother of shooting victim Jacob Blake wants an end to violent protests.

Another social media video shows a man with a severe arm wound sitting on the ground tended to by a man with a long gun as police approach.

Yet another video shows a man lying between parked cars with an apparent gunshot wound to the head. Several people rushed to his aid.

One bystander took off his shirt to stop the bleeding, but had trouble finding the wound until other people came to help.

Before the gunfire, police in riot gear fired rubber bullets, tear gas and flash-bang rounds to push back demonstrators who defied a dawn-to-dusk curfew and gathered outside a courthouse and adjacent park.

Reuters

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