Members of Riot Kitchen 206, “a no charge kitchen serving protestors, activists, movements and those in need in Seattle WA” have been arrested by authorities in Kenosha, Wisconsin after police suspected that they were “…preparing for criminal activity related to the civil unrest.”
Kenosha police released a statement following the arrests that acting on a tip, they had surveilled the vehicles with out of state plates fuelling gas cans. The vehicles contained gas masks, helmets, protective vests, illegal fireworks, and suspected controlled substances.
A video of the arrest taken by onlookers quickly went viral. In the video, law enforcement officers emerge from unmarked vehicles and appear to have been from multiple agencies including the US Marshall’s Service. Kenosha Police later confirmed that they led the operation.
The incident occurred after the 7 p.m. Kenosha curfew was instituted on Wednesday. In a statement to the Kenosha News, the Kenosha Police Department said: “Citizens need to be off the streets for their safety. Curfew will be enforced.”
Riot Kitchen has been a fixture at Seattle riots including the armed takeover of Capitol Hill during the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP). According to their GoFundMe page “During CHOP we built a full functioning kitchen in Cal Anderson, with a experienced kitchen staff and a array of vegan, gluten free, vegetarian and other dishes”
The page also says that Riot Kitchen was “… founded by Maehem, a queer black woman who started out by wanting to help feed the protestors at The George Floyd protests in Seattle, WA.”
Jennifer Scheurle, a Riot Kitchen board member, told the Washington Post that the group was putting gas in the organization’s bus and food truck when officers stormed them. She said it was “pure craziness” to suggest they were using the gas for criminal activity.
“It’s two giant vehicles and generators,” Scheurle said. “We don’t have guns, we don’t have weapons. We’re there to feed people. That’s it.”
Rioters have taken extreme measures to hide their identities, including those in Portland and Seattle wearing “Press” Stickers on their clothing while throwing objects at police, including glass and plastic bottles.
Earlier in the day, Governor Tony Evers said that he would be increasing the presence of the Wisconsin National Guard to ensure that “individuals can exercise their rights safely, protect state buildings and critical infrastructure, and support first responders and firefighters.”