Kenosha mayor tries calling for peace despite rioting

Mayor John Antaramian said looting and rioting would not go unpunished

Kenosha, Wis., Mayor John Antaramian on Monday called for peace as nationwide anger erupted after a Black man was shot in the back eight times by police officers on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, Antaramian called the shooting "unacceptable," but reminded city residents that rioting and looting would not go unpunished.

"Rioting and looting is not something that is acceptable in this community, and therefore that also has consequences," he said.

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian walking away after trying to speak to protesters Monday in his city.

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian walking away after trying to speak to protesters Monday in his city. (AP)

Antaramian had moved the news conference from a park to inside the public safety building. As he was speaking, a crowd rushed to the building and a door was snapped off its hinges before police in riot gear pepper-sprayed the crowd.

"Regrettably, in attempting to hopefully calm people down, I was not overly successful," Antaramian said.

Sunday's shooting quickly spread on social media, igniting new protests over racial injustice in several cities. Blake's father said his son was paralyzed from the waist down after the incident. Police have released few additional details.

It came three months after the police-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off demonstrations around the U.S.

Since the shooting, anger has spilled into the streets of Kenosha and other cities, including Los Angeles, Wisconsin's capital city of Madison and Minneapolis, the epicenter of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer following Floyd's death.

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Hundreds of protesters defied an 8 p.m. curfew Monday night, amassing in downtown Kenosha. Some set fire to buildings, cars and trash bins, threw bottles and shot fireworks, and then battled with officers in riot gear, including 125 members of the Wisconsin National Guard, who deployed tear gas as they guarded the courthouse.

Crews cordoned off a city block Tuesday so officials could survey the aftermath. Several storefronts were badly damaged. Smoke filled the air and visibility was low as firefighters used water cannons on still-smoldering buildings.

"Nobody deserves this," said Pat Oertle, the owner of Computer Adventure. Computers were stolen, and the store was "destroyed," she said. "This accomplishes nothing," Oertle added. "This is not justice that they're looking for."

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The Wisconsin Department of Justice has been leading the investigation into the shooting, which is expected to last several weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.