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Buildings on fire as US city rages over police shooting of black man

WISCONSIN : Arsonists set buildings ablaze and torched much of the black business district in a second night of unrest in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, triggered by the wounding of a black man shot in the back by officers as his three sons looked on.

Smoke billowed over central Kenosha after police in riot gear clashed with protesters who defied a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Monday night and into yesterday morning, blocks away from where police gunned down Mr Jacob Blake on Sunday.

Video of the encounter taken by an onlooker showed Mr Blake walking toward the driver's side of a grey SUV followed by two officers with their guns drawn at his back. Seven gunshots are then heard as Mr Blake, who appears unarmed, opens the car door and a woman nearby jumps up and down in disbelief.

It was unknown whether the officers saw something inside the vehicle that prompted them to shoot. Mr Blake's three young sons were inside the car.

Crowds soon gathered at the scene, and some demonstrators set fires and threw bricks and Molotov cocktails at police, leading the authorities to close public buildings in the area. Mr Blake, 29, survived the shooting and was in stable condition following surgery, his father said.

But the incident, the latest in a litany of cases to focus attention on police treatment of black Americans, unleashed outrage in the lakefront city of Kenosha.

The shooting occurred three months after the death of Mr George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who was pinned under the knee of a white police officer, sparking nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.

Hours into the curfew, the mostly peaceful demonstration turned violent.Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and smoke bombs to disperse the crowd, which grew to several hundred, according to protester Porche Bennett, 31.

Fires destroyed much of the black business district, Ms Bennett said, adding that the instigators she saw were white.

"It's people from out of town doing this. We've been shopping there since we were kids and they set it on fire," she said.

Social media images showed both white and black agitators.

The first night of clashes on Sunday prompted Governor Tony Evers to order in National Guard troops to help maintain order. - REUTERS

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