Kenosha Riots: Rioters Have Caused Nearly $2 Million in Damage to City Property

Cars in a used car lot were destroyed by rioters after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., August 31, 2020. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters)

Rioters have caused nearly $2 million in damage to city-owned property in Kenosha, Wis. after the police shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23 sparked unrest in the city, according to a new report.

“Right now, we’re estimating between lost equipment, lost street lights, lost traffic signals, and miscellaneous sign damage – we’re estimating a cost of approximately $1.9 million,” said Kenosha Public Works Director Shelly Billingsley, in an update reported to the Public Works Committee on Monday.

That estimate is based on what it would cost to replace the equipment, Billingsley told Kenosha News.

Rioters destroyed two dump trucks, which officials will now have to scramble to replace ahead of winter this year as they had been used as snow-plow vehicles in the colder months. Officials believed they would be able to replace the trucks in time, but the coronavirus pandemic and other factors may impact the speed at which that would happen, Kenosha News reported. 

Billingsley said garbage trucks, which were insured, had been destroyed as well after being sent downtown during daily protests that became violent at night. 

“But as much as it is a loss, the burning hulks did provide some additional security,” said Ald. Bill Siel, according to Kenosha News. “So, I guess they went down with a fight.”

Rioters set the city ablaze last week after police shot Blake in the back multiple times at close range while responding to a call that Blake, who had a warrant out for his arrest, had taken a woman’s keys and refused to return them. The night after the incident, at least 37 fires were set in the city, according to fire officials. Of the 175 people arrested during the riots, 102 resided outside of Kenosha and represented 44 cities, according to police.

The next evening’s demonstrations turned deadly when 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly fatally shot two people while trying to protect local businesses.

Kenosha mayor John Antaramian announced Sunday he has asked governor Tony Evers for $30 million in state funding to help the city “rebuild and heal after the week of violence and damage experienced particularly in the downtown, uptown, and surrounding areas of the city,” Fox 6 Now reported.

“Kenosha is a safe community with hardworking individuals who are mourning and facing immense tragedy and devastation,” Antaramian said in a news release. “We’re asking the state and community partners to help rebuild what was lost and to invest in programs and training for our young people.”

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