In downtown Antioch, support and worry ahead of Trump's visit to Kenosha

  • Antioch public works employees on Monday reinstalled dozens of benches, planters and garbage cans after they were removed from downtown last week, when the village declared an emergency curfew.

      Antioch public works employees on Monday reinstalled dozens of benches, planters and garbage cans after they were removed from downtown last week, when the village declared an emergency curfew. Elena Ferrarin | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/1/2020 10:01 AM

Downtown Antioch started returning to normalcy Monday, and residents and business owners expressed different opinions on a local teenager accused of killing two people and President Donald Trump's plans to visit nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the wake of fiery protests sparked by a police shooting.

"I think it's great," Laura Foster, owner of Ms. Peddler's Boutique on Main Street, said of Trump's plans. Nearby, public works employees reinstalled dozens of planters, benches and garbage cans that were removed as a precaution last week.

 
Laura Foster, owner of Ms. Peddler's Boutique on Main Street in Antioch, said she endorses President Donald Trump's plans to visit nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin.
  Laura Foster, owner of Ms. Peddler's Boutique on Main Street in Antioch, said she endorses President Donald Trump's plans to visit nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin. - Elena Ferrarin | Staff Photographer

Antioch had declared an emergency curfew Aug. 26 after the arrest of Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, accused of killing two people and wounding a third during protests Aug. 25 in Kenosha, about 20 miles northeast. Rittenhouse's attorney said he acted in self-defense.

Village officials feared social unrest after Rittenhouse's arrest. The curfew was lifted within 24 hours, and on Monday some business owners who had boarded up were removing the wood from windows.

Foster said too many people rushed to judgment in the face of unanswered questions, such as what led up to Rittenhouse firing a weapon and why Kenosha police let him walk away afterward.

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"He did kill someone ... but I don't think he was as angry as he was frightened," she said.

Resident Theresa Koenig, who lives in downtown Antioch, said Rittenhouse "had no business carrying a gun." She was so anxious about the curfew last week that she left town with her two children to spend the night at her parents' house.

As for Trump visiting Kenosha, Koenig said, it's not a good idea because it might inflame sentiments.

"I feel like everything he (Trump) tries to do doesn't go right," she said.

Lisa and Brian Bezak, owners of The Mexican Paradise Cafe in downtown Antioch, said they endorse President Donald Trump's plans to visit nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin.
  Lisa and Brian Bezak, owners of The Mexican Paradise Cafe in downtown Antioch, said they endorse President Donald Trump's plans to visit nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin. - Elena Ferrarin | Staff Photographer

Lisa and Brian Bezak, who own The Mexican Paradise Cafe in downtown Antioch, endorse Trump's visit to Kenosha.

"He needs a lot of people to hear his voice," Lisa Bezak said. "We need to do something about this. The protests are fine but not the rioting and looting. People work hard for their business."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Brian Bezak said he believes Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. He blamed Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers for not accepting sooner Trump's offer for federal help to quell protests in the wake of the Aug. 23 police shooting of resident Jacob Blake in Kenosha.

Evers asked Trump to reconsider his plans to visit Kenosha. The White House said the visit would be "unifying."

Police Chief Greg Guttschow said Monday that he didn't expect Trump's visit to affect Antioch.

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