Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A man on the ground was shot during the third day of protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25, 2020. (Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A man on the ground was shot during the third day of protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25, 2020. (Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Amnesty Calls for Repeal of 'Open Carry' Laws After Teen Gunman Charged With Murder for Shooting at Kenosha Protest

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes warns that the danger posed by white militias has been ignored for far too long.

Kenny Stancil

Two people were killed and one injured overnight in Kenosha, Wisconsin after a white individual with a gun—who was arrested Wednesday by law enforcement in a nearby state—shot protesters who were demonstrating in the wake of the police shooting of unarmed black man Jacob Blake last weekend. 

"Open carry laws, especially where no permit is required to carry, endanger the public and should be repealed. The U.S. is failing to protect people's right to live and to protest safely."
—Ernest Coverson, Amnesty International

As the New York Times reported, most of "Tuesday evening was spent in a shifting, hourslong standoff between the police and protesters" near the county courthouse in downtown Kenosha. The protesters were dispersed from the park to the city streets by tear gas and rubber bullets. According to the Times:

Many protesters left the area, but others lingered and walked to a gas station several blocks away. There, a group of men with guns stood outside, promising to protect the property and verbally sparring with the arriving protesters. As the night stretched on, the gas station became a tense gathering spot, with bystanders watching from parked cars and people milling around in the street, arguing and occasionally shoving each other.

Around midnight, shots were fired. Additional video taken by bystanders shows the suspected shooter fleeing the scene of the initial shooting as protesters attempted to apprehend him. After he tripped and fell, the gunman opened fire on multiple individuals, killing one and injuring another.

Warning: The following videos contain graphic footage of violence.

Video taken at the scene shows police officers drive past the armed vigilante.

According to public records obtained by the Daily Dot, a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, has been "charged with first-degree murder in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and labeled a 'fugitive from justice'" who "fled the state of Wisconsin with intent to avoid prosecution for that offense." The individual was arrested by the Antioch Police Department on Wednesday. 

Some commentators noted that several police officers had previously engaged a group of armed men in a seemingly friendly conversation, in stark contrast to the tense clashes with protesters earlier Tuesday night. In the video, police officers in armored trucks can be heard saying, "We appreciate you guys, we really do" to a group of self-styled militia members. 

Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told the Times, "I've had people saying, 'Why don't you deputize citizens?' This is why you don't deputize citizens with guns to protect Kenosha."

Criminal defense and civil rights attorney Rebecca Kavanagh argued that the Kenosha Police Department had effectively deputized the armed militia members with their tacit endorsement, though the statements made by a man in the video she shared had not been corroborated at press time. 

In a statement on Wednesday, Amnesty International's End Gun Violence Campaign Manager Ernest Coverson argued that "open carry laws, especially where no permit is required to carry, endanger the public and should be repealed. The U.S. is failing to protect people's right to live and to protest safely." He added, "law enforcement officers should ensure that armed private individuals are not endangering public safety or targeting peaceful protestors."

In a Wednesday interview with Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes made the case that the danger posed by white nationalist militias has been ignored for far too long. 

"How many times across this country do you see armed gunmen protesting, walking into state capitols, and everybody just thinks it's okay?" asked Barnes. "People treat that like it's some kind of normal activity that people are walking around with assault rifles...in many instances these people have been led on by various conspiracy theories that have ruminated on the internet, and these people are demanding to have their country back." 

"To assume that nothing bad is going to happen, to assume that these people have the most fine intentions is completely ridiculous," said Barnes, adding that "we can't even act surprised that this happened because this is what they've been saying that they're going to do."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

In Landslide 1,108-to-387 Vote, Maine Nurses Reject Effort to Decertify Their Union

"They thought because we were a new union, they could manipulate Maine Med nurses and overturn our 2021 election," said one nurse. "But we just showed them the door."

Jake Johnson ·


Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·


Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·


US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·


Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo