Two people protesting police brutality were killed and another was injured in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this week during a confrontation with armed vigilantes ― something the city’s sheriff said Thursday was not peaceful but “wasn’t too bad.”
“Last night was very peaceful,” Kenosha Sheriff David Beth said at a news conference. “Tuesday night, not quite so peaceful, but it wasn’t too bad.”
It was the only time he mentioned the protesters’ deaths during the event.
Protests have sprung up around the country this week after a police officer in Kenosha shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the back seven times. Blake’s family says he has been paralyzed from the waist down.
Kenosha responded to protests in the city by putting a curfew into place. On Wednesday, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis blamed the deaths on protesters being out after curfew. However, shooting suspect Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was also out after curfew. Rittenhouse was arrested Wednesday in his hometown of Antioch, Illinois, and charged with first-degree murder.
“Persons who were out after curfew became engaged in some type of disturbance, and persons were shot. Everybody involved was out after the curfew,” Miskinis said at a press conference. “Had persons not been in violation of that, perhaps the situation would not have happened.”
Beth’s statement about Tuesday not being “too bad” came as video emerged of comments he made in 2018 following the arrest of a group of shoplifters.
“I’m to the point where I think society has to come to a threshold where there are some people that aren’t worth saving,” Beth said at the time. “We need to build warehouses to put these people into it and lock them away for the rest of their lives.”
“Let’s put them in jail,” he added. “Let’s stop them from, truly, at least some of these males, going out and getting 10 other women pregnant and having small children. Let’s put them away. At some point, we have to stop being politically correct. I don’t care what race, I don’t care how old they are. If there’s a threshold that they cross. These people have to be warehoused, no recreational time in jails. We put them away for the rest of their lives so the rest of us can be better.”
Beth met with members of the Kenosha NAACP after his comments sparked a firestorm and issued a public apology.