Posted on August 28, 2020

Video Shows Activists in Kenosha Arrested by Officers Who Jumped Out of Unmarked Vehicle

Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, August 27, 2020

A Seattle-based nonprofit group that serves food to protesters said Thursday that several of its members were still in police custody in Kenosha, Wis., after law enforcement officers sprang from unmarked cars and arrested them ahead of Wednesday night’s demonstrations in the city.

The arrests were recorded by a bystander and shared widely on social media, renewing concerns that unidentified officers could be shielded in crackdowns on demonstrators. The organization, known as Riot Kitchen, was a fixture at protests in Seattle this summer.

Cellphone footage of the incident showed officers rushing out of black SUVs and surrounding a silver Toyota minivan belonging to the nonprofit near a Speedway gas station. One officer aimed a gun at the van while another bashed through the passenger-side window. Officers could be seen pulling two people out of the vehicle and handcuffing them.

Off-camera, officers arrested a half-dozen other members, Riot Kitchen board member Jennifer Scheurle told The Washington Post.


The Kenosha Police Department later acknowledged that its officers led the operation, saying in a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday evening that they started tracking the group after receiving a tip about “suspicious vehicles” meeting on the edge of town. Assisted by U.S. marshals, they followed the group to a gas station in the northern part of Kenosha. There they watched the occupants fill up multiple fuel cans, according to the statement.


Police said they recovered helmets, gas masks, protective vests, illegal fireworks and suspected controlled substances from the vehicles. Nine people were arrested on disorderly conduct charges. Police did not immediately release their names.


Riot Kitchen was founded amid the racial justice protests in the Pacific Northwest earlier in the summer to provide free meals to activists taking part in the demonstrations, as well as people experiencing homelessness. Members passed out water, sandwiches and other dishes during protests in Seattle and Portland. A GoFundMe drive raised more than $44,000 to pay for the group’s food truck.


The tactic used in the arrests bore some similarities to tactics law enforcement agencies have deployed against activists in other cities where racial justice protests and riots have unfolded in recent months. {snip}

In Portland, federal officers in generic military garb have rolled up in unmarked vehicles and grabbed demonstrators suspected of wrongdoing. {snip}