Fire chief: Damage from Kenosha unrest tops $11 million

Midwest

KENOSHA, Wis. (NewsNation Now) — Kenosha’s fire chief says property damage due to fires from the days of civil unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake has now topped $11 million.

Fire Chief Charles Leipzig told the Police and Fire Commission Tuesday that the record fire loss totaled $11,119,615 in the days following the Aug. 23 shooting of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was left partially paralyzed after a white officer shot him seven times in the back.

“To put into context, that’s three years of fire loss for us in the span of about a week,” Leipzig told commissioners, reported local newspaper Kenosha News.

The shooting, which was recorded on video, sparked protests and violence in Kenosha, where roughly two dozen fires were set and numerous businesses were destroyed.

During protests on Aug. 25, prosecutors say 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch, Illinois, shot three demonstrators, killing two of them.

The mayor of Kenosha, John Antaramian, gathered with local leaders Monday to talk about the next steps for rebuilding the city of approximately 100,000.

“The first part of healing is listening, not talking, listening — and that’s what we’re starting to do,” said Antaramian. “Next week we’ll begin the first listening sessions and that will be run by Ken Bergeron from the U.S. Dept of Justice.”

Antaramian estimates the city will need about $50 million to recover, which he says will be a mix of federal, state and local funds.

Activists gathered in Kenosha on Wednesday for a celebration dubbed a “Day of Healing” that included meals for seniors and the homeless and a voter registration drive.

Tana McLean, one of the event organizers and Blake family friend, told the newspaper the event was changing the narrative to one about peace and giving back to the community.

“He’s healing,” she said about Blake. “It’s still a difficult time. We need an indictment, and they need justice. Until that happens, things aren’t clear about what’s going to happen next. But we’re going to keep driving out the message of love, peace, kindness and compassion.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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