Wisconsin Weekly: Militia member says Kenosha police sought to herd protesters toward armed civilians on night of deadly shootings

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Militia and police; pandemic schooling; systemic racism; ballot confusion;  QAnon in Wisconsin


Of note: This week we highlight our story detailing allegations from a militia member that Kenosha police planned to herd demonstrators toward armed civilians — and then leave — during a night of protest that turned deadly.

Wisconsin Watch Managing Editor Dee J. Hall reports on statements by Ryan Balch, who described himself as coordinating logistics for the militia members answering a call to arms to patrol the streets of Kenosha on Aug. 25. It was unclear to what extent such a plan was implemented, but by the end of the evening, two protesters were shot to death and a third injured by a 17-year-old vigilante. His attorney claims he acted in self defense.

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Adam Rogan / The Journal Times via AP

Kyle Rittenhouse, left, with backwards cap, walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, on Aug. 25, with Ryan Balch, another militia member. Rittenhouse was charged in the fatal shooting of two protesters and the wounding of a third during a night of unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Balch claims police told him they planned to push protesters toward the armed civilians to allow the militia to “deal with them.” Kenosha police have not responded to that allegation.

Militia member says Kenosha police sought to push protesters toward them on night of deadly shootings

Wisconsin Watch — September 5, 2020

A militia member patrolling the streets of Kenosha on Aug. 25 claimed that police on the scene told him they planned to herd demonstrators toward the armed men — and then leave.

Related coverage: ‘I just killed somebody’: Vigilantes inject danger into police brutality protests in Kenosha, nationwide

Courtesy of Jessica Barrera

Jessica Barrera is seen with her son Niko at their home in Eau Claire. She decided to enroll him in all-virtual schooling this year over concerns about coronavirus and because of his success with remote learning last spring.

Pizza lunches and iPads: A single mom speaks to her son about returning to school

Wisconsin Watch/WPR — August 31, 2020

Jessica Barrera said her son Niko did well learning at home after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered schools nationwide this spring. “His teacher said he was top of the class with turning in assignments and doing the work,” said Barrera, 40, a single mother in Eau Claire. 


Related coverage: Read and listen to our full Outbreak Wisconsin series with WPR

Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake spotlights systemic racism, police spending in Wisconsin

Injustice Watch — August  31, 2020 

When the sun rose on Kenosha on Wednesday, Aug. 26, former Marine Tim Thompkins said his hometown felt like a battlefield. Smoke lingered in the air from buildings and cars set ablaze the night before. For Thompkins and other Black residents, the unrest in their city speaks to an entrenched history of systemic racism in Wisconsin, where, according to one study, Black people are incarcerated at a rate 10 times higher than whites.

Wisconsin court sets up possible delay in absentee mailing

Associated Press — September 10, 2020

The conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that no absentee ballots be mailed until it gives the go-ahead or makes any future ruling about who should be on the ballot in the critical battleground state.

Ricardo Torres / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Sara Cook, left, Claudia Hoffman and Jessica Cook, the organizers of a QAnon march in Milwaukee in late July, hold signs and wear matching shirts that read “save our children.”

How QAnon, a fringe online movement, is drawing followers in Wisconsin and across the U.S. with a stew of conspiracies

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — September 4, 2020

Swept up in the culture wars over immigration and race, rattled by economic upheaval and desperate for companionship in an age of social isolation, an untold number of Americans are succumbing to radicalization in the form of fringe or extremist ideologies rooted in baseless conspiracy theories.

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