Fifteen-year-old Matthew Stuart, a resident of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was just one of many locals who came out Tuesday to help clean up and board up buildings following a night of rioting and destruction in the city.
Kenosha has been rocked by unrest after video footage appeared to show Jacob Blake being shot in the back by a police officer Sunday. Blake is partially paralyzed, according to his family, and people have taken to the streets for two nights in a row over the shooting.
Rioters destroyed many local businesses on Monday, lighting multiple structures on fire and breaking into other stores to loot. By late Monday evening, the blocks surrounding the Kenosha County Courthouse were thick with smoke.
Fires could be seen from blocks away as entire buildings burned to the ground. Glass shards and objects from local stores were seen scattered outside of businesses as officers and fire officials appeared overwhelmed by the chaos.
By Tuesday, the fires had calmed and residents flocked to the streets, surveying the damage to the city. Many arrived with household cleaning items like brooms and scrub brushes and began to clean up the damage done to local stores. Stuart told the Daily Caller that the decision to come out and help his city was an easy one.
“It’s really important ‘cuz there’s a lot of businesses up and down here, like shops that people shop at and stuff like that, so it’s very important to the community,” Stuart said as he took a short break from cleaning. “Places I even shop, so I just thought, I mean, you really have to come out here.”
“It’s kind of hard just to sit at home and watch the news, and just watch everybody helping when you can just walk outside and do it yourself.”
Stuart continued on to condemn the destruction and said he thinks a lot of people coming to riot are not from Kenosha. He told the Caller that the situation is now “beyond Black Lives Matter” and it has become “about people doing what they want.” People are using “Kenosha as their free-for-all,” Stuart added.
The 15-year-old attended the clean-up with his mother, who told the Caller that she came out for similar reasons.
“I mean, this is our home and honestly, I can’t sit at home and not do anything,” she said. “It’s our duty to come out here and help the community and help these business owners who are suffering already from COVID and now they’re having to deal with this and the amount of loss.”
“I mean, this is a community and there’s nothing but togetherness. It was beyond powerful yesterday to see hundreds and hundreds of our community come together to help business owners and to see the love, and no matter what comes in here with hate, this community will always pull through with love and togetherness.”
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