Seattle-based activists arrested in Kenosha after filling up gas cans

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The leader of a group of Seattle activists said several members were “kidnapped” and mistakenly arrested in Kenosha, Wis., this week while in the city to feed protesters.

Kenosha police on Thursday said nine people traveling in a minivan, bread truck and school bus had been taken into police custody on suspicion of disorderly conduct. Riot Kitchen, a Seattle-based nonprofit, posted a video clip on social media appearing to show law enforcement officers getting out of unmarked vehicles with their weapons drawn at the minivan.

The officers appear to smash the front passenger window and drag out the people inside. In a tweet, the group said its members were “kidnapped by feds in unmarked vans.”

“We are currently trying to find our friends who were there just to feed people,” the tweet read.

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The Kenosha Police Department said it received a tip from “a citizen” about suspicious-looking vehicles with out-of-state license plates arriving in the city amid violent protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake last weekend.

The officers followed the vehicles to a gas station and identified themselves before detaining people inside the bus and bread truck, police said. The minivan tried to drive away, authorities said. Inside the vehicles, officers found helmets, gas masks, protective vests, illegal fireworks and suspected controlled substances, police said. Nine people were arrested.

Jennifer Schuerle, a Riot Kitchen board member, said the officers did not identify themselves and disputed claims the group was in town to engage in criminal activity.

“Riot Kitchen has been busy trying to free our volunteer crew members in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after a violent arrest at a gas station where our people refueled vehicles and got gas for our generator, which is used to cook,” she said in a statement to Fox News. “Protective equipment we have on the bus is just that – for protection while being in large crowds with masks for COVID protection.”

The police department noted that it was assisted by the U.S. Marshals Service. It was not clear whether the law enforcement personnel in the video were Kenosha police officers or federal agents.

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Schuerle told the Washington Post that six members were arrested after putting gas in the bus and truck off-camera, in addition to the people in the minivan. She told the newspaper some members were traveling to Washington, D.C., when they took a detour to Kenosha.

“We reject all claims that our crew was there to incite violence or build explosives – our nonprofit organization has always been and will always be about feeding people,” she told Fox News.

The group was founded during the protests over racial injustice and police brutality and provides meals to demonstrators, according to its GoFundMe page in which it asks for donations to purchase a food truck.

A person in a car raises her fist in solidarity with a march protesting the Sunday police shooting of Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

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A spokesperson for the Marshals Service was not available for comment Friday. The agency told the newspaper it was asked to assist Kenosha police, but did not participate in the arrests.

Calls to the Kenosha Police Department were not returned. Three Riot Kitchen members were released from police custody, Scheurle said.



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