Sheriff believes social media is attracting 'professional agitators' to Kenosha

The Kenosha County Sheriff's Department is gearing up for another night of unrest with hundreds of law enforcement coming to help from around the state.

Sheriff David Beth said he is grateful for the support from other law enforcement agencies because resources are thin and exhaustion is high. Demonstrators, on the other hand, believe more law enforcement may only lead to more tension -- as they wait for an apology for the shooting of Jacob Blake.


Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth

"I can see why they are upset about it. I can understand that," Sheriff Beth said.

The sheriff believes it is too early to decide whether the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police is justifiable.

"I don't know what was said. I don't know what was done. I don't know the evidence that was collected," Beth said.


City vehicles set on fire in Kenosha

Heading into a third of demands for justice, Sheriff Beth said social media is attracting more demonstrators -- and he believes they are rebels without a cause.

"The professional agitators is what we call them, that come from other places, they don't care. Them coming here, burning a building or looting a building is like, most everybody in this room is like, we're going out to dinner," Beth said.


City vehicles set on fire in Kenosha

Kecesia Evans is a Kenosha resident.

"I don't condone violence or looting," Evans said. "If the biggest thing people are worried about is a building being burnt down, you're missing the message. It's beyond that."


Kecesia Evans

Evans brought her daughters to witness what she calls a moment in history. She, among others, who say de-escalation will come with empathy from Kenosha police.

"A formal apology would be nice to start off with," Evans said.

In the meantime, Sheriff Beth said he and city officials are open to other ideas for a peaceful resolution.


"The mayor, the county exec, the chief of police -- we're open for ideas to keep things. We would like to squash this and keep this as safe as possible," Beth said.

Some freeway exits were temporarily blocked off to keep outside protesters from coming to Kenosha on Monday night. Sheriff Beth said officials do have some strategies in place for how to handle the next night -- but he did not want to share that information publicly.

Full text statement from Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth

"As we enter what will likely be another very challenging night in Kenosha County, I want the public to know that the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department and our partners in law enforcement are doing our utmost to protect our community during this unprecedented time of unrest.

"We are working alongside members of the Kenosha Police Department and law enforcement departments from across Wisconsin, as well as state and federal authorities and the Wisconsin National Guard, in a concerted attempt to minimize the spread of the destructive behavior that has plagued us since Sunday night.

"People are frustrated, I get it. And they’re scared. I certainly get that, too. Rumors abound on social media and elsewhere, with widely varying levels of truth to them. We know that much of the damage is being inflicted by people coming in from outside our community, with the intent to rob and destroy, not to engage in their First Amendment right to demonstrate.

"The best thing our residents can do to stay safe is to stay home tonight and abide by the curfew that will be in effect from 8 p.m. until 7 a.m. tomorrow. If you want to protest peacefully, by all means go out and do it. It’s your right. But don’t be a part of this destructive force that’s burning our community. That’s not a productive path to justice.

"And know that we are working actively to continue marshaling the resources we need to bring this disruption under control. Just today, our county executive, Jim Kreuser, and our mayor, John Antaramian, worked with the governor to bring more National Guard troops to Kenosha tonight and in the coming days. And we are working to bring in help from federal authorities as quickly as possible.

"We are not sitting idly, watching the destruction of our community. We’re making every effort to make it stop, and I hope you will too."