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A Year After Unrest, a Scarred Kenosha Still Waits to Rebuild

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“You barely see people here anymore,” said Darrayal Jenkins, 40, as he walked past several burned buildings in July. “It’s like a ghost town.”

City officials have promised a renewed focus on Uptown, planning developments of apartments and businesses that would breathe life into it once again. Whether they will follow through has become a test of the city’s commitment to change after Mr. Blake’s shooting — and how far it will go to heal a neighborhood that is the home of so many African American families who say that they are still on the margins of civic life in Kenosha.

“They’re never going to rebuild it,” said Lonnie Stewart, 61, a former ironworker who lives in the neighborhood. He nodded in the direction of a wall of empty, boarded storefronts. “All this time later, it still looks like this.”

Kenosha is not Minneapolis, or Portland, Ore., or Chicago, bigger cities with long and familiar histories of protest, activism and street marches.

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So it came as a shock to much of the town, a mostly white former industrial and car-making hub whose voters lean Democratic, when the unrest exploded one Sunday last August. Police officers had arrived at an apartment in response to a domestic complaint and tried to arrest Mr. Blake, who is Black. As Mr. Blake, who was holding a knife, tried to climb into an S.U.V., one of the officers, Rusten Sheskey, who is white, grabbed him and fired seven times into his back, leaving him crumpled on the ground. Americans, still shaken by the killing of Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis, responded with horror after watching cellphone video of the episode, captured from across the street.

Protesters amassed in the city by the hundreds, and on the third day of marches a 17-year-old from Illinois, Kyle Rittenhouse, fatally shot two people during a scuffle, according to the authorities; he is set to stand trial for murder in November.



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