The "Truth" Behind the Kenosha 2020 Curfew

August 23rd, 2020, Kenosha WI would join the numerous cities across the country where civil unrest would take place and become an epicenter for national headlines.  By the end of the 9 day unrest through the city, one man would be paralyzed, two others deceased, another critically injured, a minor on trial facing homicide charges, 243 protestors and rioters arrested, residents, protestors and police officers injured, businesses burned down, over $1.9 million in city property damaged and over $50 million in total damage done throughout the city and thousands of residents sat in fear watching it all unfold live before their very eyes.

Many questions still linger and have gone unanswered. One of the biggest questions though; was the Curfew Lawful? This question remains to be answered but we can take an inside look at what actually took place with the curfew with help from records obtained by Never Stop Media. This investigation has taken NSM over two years to finally get answers to what really happened with the Kenosha Curfew.  Hundreds of hours and money went into obtaining records so the public would finally know the truth behind the curfew.

There are two reasons for a State of Emergency Curfew to be implemented: “Natural Disaster” and “Manmade Disaster.” I think we can all agree that the events of August 23rd 2020 thru September 1st 2020 could be deemed a “Manmade Disaster” in a court argument. In Kenosha, only the County Executive has the highest authority to implement a State of Emergency Curfew.  That individual is Democrat, James Kreuser who served Kenosha County from 2008-2022. We know that Kreuser never gave an order to implement an Emergency Curfew.  If the County Executive is not available the cities Common Council Members could get together for an emergency session and vote to give the Mayor, John Antaramian special powers to implement an emergency curfew. In order to understand what really happened with the Kenosha Curfew, NSM had to sift through thousands of open records and other documents obtained from sources.

One of those documents that NSM received was a deposition of Sheriff Beth from a civil lawsuit.  In that deposition, Beth answered “Are you asking me if I put in a curfew during the riot situation? I did. I don’t remember the day that we started the curfew but did I declare a curfew, yes. As a constitutional officer of the State of Wisconsin, and the Sheriff, yes, I do have the authority to declare a curfew.” When asked who was part of the discussions about implementing a curfew, Beth answered, “I discussed the curfew with several people.  The mayor, county executive, the- I’m pretty sure the acting General for the National Guard was involved, head of emergency government, those people were definitely part of it.” When asked if any of these discussions documented anywhere, Beth responded, “ Discussions, no.” When asked if there were emails, texts, or anything about this curfew that you unilaterally declared, Beth responded, “I don’t know that I would have sent it out. So I’m not aware of the email or texts. The only thing I can think of is probably drafted by maybe emergency government.  Truthfully I don’t know who drafted the notification to go out.” We know that under the law, no law enforcement including the sheriff can unilaterally declare a curfew.  The sheriff actually has no authority to do so, and even those in government who do, have to follow legal steps in order to implement a lawful curfew.  This curfew would stretch for a 50 mile radius, not just within the area of the Kenosha County Court House and a few blocks.

On August 23rd 2020, At  10:15pm, (over 5hrs after the shooting of Jacob Blake), the sheriff’s department issued a press release with an emergency curfew issued by Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth advising the public to be off the streets until 7:00am the following morning.  This curfew release wasn’t an official curfew, nor was it lawful.

At 2:11am another IPAWS message was sent out advising businesses to close due to multiple armed robberies being reported. In Kenosha most businesses were already closed by the time this alert went out, including the bars.

At 2:30am Beth was in the process of putting a call out to activate the Wisconsin National Guard, but that can’t actually happen until official documents are filed.

Hours after the initial unlawful curfew went out, at 2:48am, Beth declared an official “State of Emergency”. It’s important to understand the timeline and legal steps that have to be taken to declare “State of Emergency Curfews.”  We can verify this through documentation of when the initial “State of Emergency” was declared. At no time, did a curfew exist on August 23rd 2020.

Throughout the thousands of records NSM obtained, we have never seen James Kreuser’s name mentioned, which can only mean one thing, Kreuser, was never involved in the decision to implement a curfew.  According to one Kenosha Alderman, Anthony Kennedy, the Common Council members got together on August 24th 2020 to give the Mayor “special powers” to declare an “emergency curfew.”

According to the Kenosha County Board Minutes, the last time County Board Members met in August 2020 nearest the unrest dates, was on the 18th.  They did not meet again until September 8th 2020. In that meeting, several County Board Members stated concern regarding the unrest that Kenosha had experienced. A briefing was provided to the board members from Major General Paul Knapp, Adjunct General of the National Guard, “on the process of how the National Guard is mobilized and how it worked in a supporting role in Kenosha during the recent civil unrest.  He provided a timeline of events from the evening of August 23rd through the present. He closed by saying they are continuing to monitor the situation and are mindful of key upcoming dates and stand prepared to support Kenosha as well as other Counties throughout the State if they are needed again in this role.  He stated the current cost estimate for the National Guard during the unrest is $5.3 Million.” Watch Video Here:

According to the Kenosha Common Council Minutes, the last time Council Members met in August 2020 nearest the unrest dates, was August 17th.  They did not meet again until August 25th 2020, at 1pm via teleconference. There is no documentation of any meeting that happened on August 23rd, or August 24th, like the Alderman had stated.  During the August 25th meeting, it is important to note that Mayor John Antaramian was not in attendance. Alderman Bogdala presided as acting Mayor and voted as an alderman.  Those in attendance were the following aldermen: Haugaard, Siel, Michalski, Kangas, LaMacchia, Paff, Griffin, Fox, Rosenberg, Pedersen, Wilson, Prozanski, Rose, Ruffalo, Pizzala and Bogdala. Alderman Anthony Kennedy was excused from the meeting, but he claimed he was there with the other members voting to give the Mayor, special powers.  No such meeting took place on the 24th like Kennedy states, and the meeting that did take place on the 25th, he wasn’t even in attendance.

Every meeting by local government has to be documented for public record with the exception of “Closed Sessions” but even those have to be documented that a “Closed Session” occurred, so why if a meeting allegedly happened is there no documentation?  We believe it’s because no meeting actually happened and with the increase in calls by the National ACLU and Civil Rights Lawyers, it pressured city government to finally put something on the record of an actual curfew granting someone the authority to implement a curfew that had unlawfully been implemented for two days.

During the August 25th 2020 meeting it was moved by Michalski and Pedersen to adopt Resolution 134-20.” An amendment was “moved by Prozanski and Kangas to amend the period to “72 hours or 5pm Friday, August 28th and add the following text, “If an extension of this declaration is desired the Mayor shall convene the Common Council for an in-person meeting and notice the meeting with an option to go into Closed Session.”

Resolution 134-20 – By the Mayor- Declaration of Emergency Regarding Civil Unrest Granting Additional Authority to the Mayor. Adopted August 25th, 2020. Mayor Antaramian did not sign Resolution 134-20 until August 27th 2020.

It’s important to note, that at no time was a vote taken to give the Mayor the initial authority to implement a “State of Emergency Curfew”, the vote extended a curfew that was never voted on to begin with and was never declared by the Mayor himself.

The next Common Council meeting took place on August 28th, 2020 via teleconference, this time Mayor Antaramian was in attendance.  The purpose of this meeting was to “Discuss law enforcement plans for crime prevention in continuing protests that have led to deaths, personal injury, and property damage. At 5:39pm, it was moved by Bogdala and Paff to go into Closed Session regarding this item, pursuant to Wis. Stat 19.85(1)(d) to consider strategy for crime detection or prevention associated with potential riotous events. On a voice vote, motion carried.”

On September 2nd 2020, Kenosha County ended the “State of Emergency Curfew.” Mayor John Antaramian stated: “After consulting with local law enforcement agencies, I have decided the curfew is no longer needed. The last several nights have been relatively peaceful in the community and in the judgment of law enforcement, it is appropriate to remove the curfew. However, criminal activity will not be tolerated and arrests will be made if needed. I am hopeful there will be no need to reinstate the curfew in the near future.” Conveniently this was the same day the National ACLU announced they were filing a Civil Rights Lawsuit for an “Unlawful Curfew.”  Additionally, another Civil Rights Lawsuit would be filed by Attorney’s Kimberly Motley & Milo Schwab.  That lawsuit would eventually be dropped by the attorney’s.

The next Common Council meeting took place on September 9th 2020 and there was no mention of the Kenosha Unrest, but contracts for repairs to the city would be awarded to specific construction companies.

Interestingly enough, it would still take the city officials three weeks to produce any documentation regarding the curfew. It is also interesting to note that on August 29th 2020, I would be arrested for the curfew violation, despite being a journalist and having a registered company in the State of Wisconsin.  It took nearly two years to get my arrest records despite filing multiple open records requests for them.  After reviewing the reports, Kenosha PD stated the reason for my stop was due to “suspicious behavior” which is not a legal reason to stop someone in the state of Wisconsin, and further they would write in another report the stop was due to “Disorderly Conduct” which my live stream of the events that night would show at no time was I acting “suspicious” or “disorderly.”  One of the documents obtained from my arrest records suggested that bodycam from an un-named sheriff from another county and dashcam video from KPD at one point existed but was destroyed, which is interesting because at the time, there was an open case, so did Kenosha destroy evidence that proved my arrest was unlawful? After my release from jail I also tried to obtain a copy of the curfew documentation from the KPD and also the City Attorney’s Office, both of which stated that “no responsive records existed.”

In another document NSM obtained via an open records request, one Kenosha Government Entity sent out an email asking for the original curfew documentation that went out due to the vast amount of calls from the ACLU, Lawyers, and Media Outlets because they can’t find any documentation what-so-ever.  The documents that were sent were not original documents; they were made after the fact.  For legal reasons, NSM is not releasing these documents to the public at this time.

Had the Civil Rights Lawsuits went through regarding the Kenosha Curfew, it could be argued that there was in fact a legitimate reason to implement a “State of Emergency Curfew” due to the amount of “Manmade Disaster” that was happening within Kenosha.  But it could also be argued that the steps taken or lack thereof were unlawful, and unconstitutional, and at no time was a proper, legal, and lawful curfew ever implemented. Unfortunately, without a judge's ruling, we will never know the legal ruling and it will continue to be argued from both sides of the coin.  But, one thing is for certain, Kenosha Government did not follow any of the steps necessary to implement a "curfew" that did nothing to prevent anyone from being on the streets.  The only people who were actually effected by the curfew were those who were peacefully protesting, residents of Kenosha, and business owners who lost out on thousands of dollars due to their business forcibly being closed by an unlawful curfew.

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