Empower Wisconsin | Sept 23, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — It’s a tale of two candidates in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District.
U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Janesville) is calling on U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate last month’s Kenosha riots; his opponent, Democrat Roger Polack (who claimed his principle residence as Washington, D.C.) is defending a radical group that, at the very least, appears to have come to Kenosha to aid and abet rioters.
In a letter to AG Barr, Steil asks that the Department of Justice “thoroughly investigate the funding of rioters in cities nationwide.”
“In particular, I request that you include the recent riots in Kenosha in your ongoing investigations. I also request a full report on your findings as you learn more about how these criminal groups are funded and coordinated,” the congressman wrote.
Portions of Kenosha’s downtown and Uptown districts were destroyed by three days of looting and riots following the officer-involved shooting of a black man who police say repeatedly resisted arrest. Law enforcement officials say more than half of the 200 people arrested during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations/riots were from outside of Kenosha.
In a press release, Steil notes that federal law enforcement officials helped stop three vehicles — a black school bus, a bread truck and a minivan — just outside the Kenosha riot zone. Kenosha Police said the occupants were filling up “multiple fuel cans.”
Polack told the Janesville Gazette that Steil knows the people who apprehended were from the group Riot Kitchen, which serves food to protesters, and had no involvement with the Kenosha unrest because they were arrested before they got there.
“He is manipulating this tragedy for self gain, and I think he should be ashamed of himself,” Polack told the newspaper. “He should stop taking credit for the good work of those who de-escalated the situation in Kenosha, those that continue to investigate and those that are focused on healing…”
But the members of Seattle-based Riot Kitchen, as Polack noted, didn’t make it to Uptown Kenosha. They were apprehended by police. So they couldn’t serve food to the “peaceful” protesters who were ripping up and burning down portions of the Lake Michigan city.
It should also be noted that, while Riot Kitchen has been painted as a kind caterer to the Black Lives Matter protest movement, the minivan sped away from the scene and had to be stopped again by law enforcement officials. The vehicle was loaded with helmets, gas masks, protective vests, illegal fireworks and suspected controlled substances, according to police.
As far as credit goes, Steil was among the first public officials to reach out to President Donald Trump, asking him to send federal law enforcement officers to help Kenosha police and sheriff’s deputies maintain order. He did so as Gov. Tony Evers was slow to respond to local requests for state and federal assistance.
Polack suggests there’s no need to send in more federal agents to investigate.
“Criminals must be held accountable and we must look into their source of funding. I will continue working with federal, state, and local partners to prevent riots and destruction from occurring in Kenosha and other cities across the nation,” he said.