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‘It’s surreal in the worst possible way’: Kenosha reels after Jacob Blake shooting and a week of violence

KENOSHA, Wis. – It looks like Miami before a hurricane, only the plywood has gone up after the storm of rage, violence and fire has already come through.

This is Uptown, late Friday morning, as a crew of volunteers decorate the plywood sheets, bringing color and light to a stretch of the city where you can still pick up an acrid scent of smoke.

Jasmine and Victoria Fields, sisters born, raised and educated in Kenosha, are working outside a shop set between what was once a bridal store and a payday loan office.

The Fields sisters are painting a heart, inscribed with the words, “Justice for Jacob.”

“So surreal to see Kenosha, Wisconsin, to see that on the news,” said Jasmine. “To see pro athletes tweet about it. To see the Milwaukee Bucks do what they did. It’s surreal in the worst possible way. But I hope it brings about overdue change.”

An American Tragedy is unfolding in yet another city.

What began Aug. 23 shortly after 5 p.m. as a police call for a domestic incident has spiraled into yet another reckoning on race and policing during the heat of an election season in which the country’s divisions have been laid bare.

The shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer was captured on video by a bystander. The shouts, shots and images went viral.

There were protests. And unrest.

Late Tuesday night, two men were killed and another man was wounded. A 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, Kyle Rittenhouse, who was carrying an AR-15, faces criminal charges.

The legal truth will be left to the lawyers, judges and juries.

But that’s a long way off.

Until then, Kenosha will have to grapple with the aftermath, all while a wider world watches and reacts.

Volunteers Alyssa Dial, left, and Niara Thompson, 14, decorate the boarded-up windows to a business that was adjacent to the destroyed Danish Brotherhood Lodge in Kenosha. A week after violence broke out after video of the shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, was widely disseminated on social media, residents of Kenosha are trying to rebuild and recover.

A city scorched

The story of Kenosha burned through the nation.

The Milwaukee Bucks didn’t take the floor for a playoff game as they implored the Wisconsin Legislature to “address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.” Call it a boycott or a wildcat strike: The action moved other teams in basketball and beyond, including the Milwaukee Brewers, to take similar stands.

Kenosha was invoked at the Republican National Convention as the party issued a  law-and-order message.

“In the strongest possible terms, the Republican Party condemns the rioting, looting, arson and violence we have seen in Democrat-run cities like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, New York and many others,” President Donald Trump declared during his acceptance speech on the South Lawn of the White House.

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