In light of ongoing riots and unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a small group of residents banded together to protect their community and form an armed neighborhood watch.
According to Channel 3000, Jason Ottum and Gilbert Rosales were part of a group of about 10 residents of the Kenosha subdivision that have been monitoring the neighborhood every night since Tuesday.
About a 10 minute drive from Downtown Kenosha, two men stood this week with AR-15 firearms protecting their subdivision. https://t.co/XUVGk6Aphv
— Kenosha News (@Kenosha_News) August 29, 2020
In spite of the serious optics of the men standing guard with AR-15 rifles, Channel 3000 reports that Ottum and Rosales were “anything but threatening” when interviewed on Thursday night and were “sincere in their concern for their neighbors and city.”
“All we’re doing is making sure the community here is able to go asleep, sleep fine and are not worried about anything,” said Rosales, who has lived in the neighborhood for 18 years.
“We had a neighborhood Watch meeting, about 20 of us assembled and talked about what we should do,” said 20-year resident Ottum of the community’s decision to form a neighborhood watch.
“A lot of us are veterans (Ottum and Rosales said they served in the Marines), some are former cops, so we’re comfortable (handling firearms),” Ottum said. “We’re simply doing nothing more than protecting the subdivision.”
The subdivision guards have been staying in place until about 1 or 2 in the morning and, as of the time of the interview, had not run into any trouble.
Ottum said a group of young women in a van drove by the guards Thursday night and shouted “Black Lives Matter,” but the group supports peaceful protest and Ottum said there was “nothing wrong with that.”
Local police have been “very supportive” of the initiative, Ottum noted. “They said ‘guys, just be careful.’ And they actually suggested to use our cars to block a bit (of the street).”
While he wishes it weren’t under such grim circumstances, Ottum says that the guard has actually led his community to grow closer.
“That’s probably the silver lining in all of this. I’ve met other neighbors and we’re all talking,” Ottum said.
Watch members have also been delivering refreshments to police and National Guardsmen stationed at Bradford High School.
“This is just the way the Kenosha community pulls together and helps each other,” Rosales declared.
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