Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Police officers stand guard inside of a fenced area that surrounds several government buildings on August 27, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers approved a request for an additional 500 National Guard troops to be deployed into Wisconsin on August 26. Many arrests have been made with the additional presence of law enforcement. (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Police officers stand guard inside of a fenced area that surrounds several government buildings on August 27, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers approved a request for an additional 500 National Guard troops to be deployed into Wisconsin on August 26. Many arrests have been made with the additional presence of law enforcement. (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Video Shows Officers in Unmarked Vehicles Surround, Arrest Activists in Kenosha for the Crime of... Trying to Serve Free Food

When traveling from out of state with an AR-15 is not treated as a crime, but "filling up gas cans for your food truck" leads to immediate arrest.

Kenny Stancil

Soon after their Wednesday arrival in Kenosha, Wisconsin, eight volunteers from Seattle-based Riot Kitchen who planned to distribute free food to protesters were arrested by law enforcement officials who emerged from unmarked cars, the Seattle Times reported

Footage recorded by a bystander and widely shared on social media was featured in the Washington Post. The video shows law enforcement officers jump out of black SUVs and smash the window of a minivan before handcuffing both of the vehicle's occupants:

Riot Kitchen board member Jennifer Scheurle told the Post that off-camera, officers arrested six additional members of the nonprofit group. 

"Our mission is to feed people for free—protesters and everyone in need," Scheurle told the Times. "We were from out of town—but that's not illegal."

On Thursday afternoon, Scheurle said four of members of the volunteer crew had been released and four remained in jail. 

On Twitter, Riot Kitchen shared video of the incident and said, "We are currently trying to find our friends who were just there to feed people."

According to a statement made by the Kenosha Police Department, city police officers—assisted by U.S. Marshals—acting on information from a citizen tip about "suspicious vehicles with out of state plates," located a black school bus, bread truck, and tan minivan, and "took up surveillance."

After following the vehicles to a gas station, police say they observed occupants of the bus and bread truck filling fuel cans. The police say they suspected that "the occupants of these vehicles were preparing for criminal activity related to the civil unrest," and claim to have attempted to investigate after identifying themselves. 

Police say they stopped the minivan after it tried to drive away. According to the police, the vehicles also contained helmets, gas masks, protective vests, illegal fireworks, and suspected controlled substances.

Scheurle told the Times that "any cans filled with fuel would have been for legitimate uses, such as generators used in serving meals."

Some observers found the arrests even more troubling compared to the treatment by local police towards Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old accused of murdering two protesters in Kenosha Tuesday after traveling from nearby Illinois with an AR-15 rifle.

Riot Kitchen was en route to Friday's march in Washington, D.C., where they planned to provide free food. When they learned, during the course of their cross-country trip, about the police shooting of Jacob Blake, they rerouted to Kenosha. 

The nonprofit group is currently in the midst of a GoFundMe fundraiser.  


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.

'A Slap in the Face to Voters': Kansas Supreme Court Upholds GOP Map

"This case is only one skirmish in the wholesale assault on democracy in Kansas and around the country," said the head of the state's ACLU.

Jessica Corbett ·


Ahead of House Vote, Analysis Details How Big Oil Price Gouging Rewards Wall Street

"Congress has a narrow window of opportunity to stop profiteering at the pump and secure a more stable, sustainable future for all. It's time to act—before it's too late."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Major Milestone' as Rhode Island Expands Voting Rights

A newly passed measure was praised as "a huge step forward in improving and modernizing voting in the Ocean State."

Andrea Germanos ·


PA Primary Is Too Close to Call, But Trump Says 'Dr. Oz Should Declare Victory' Anyway

"This is why we keep saying Trump is a clear and present danger to democracy."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Entirely Reckless': Critics Blast EU Plan to Boost Gas Infrastructure

"Deepening its own dependence on volatile fossil fuels" in response to Russia's attack on Ukraine, said one campaigner, "is the last thing Europe should be doing."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo