A local Kenosha resident told Wisconsin Right Now that he saw a man with a walkie talkie organizing and directing eight carloads of people right before arson fires broke out in the direction they drove.
Corvette Thompson, a military veteran, told us in an interview that he finds it suspicious the fires broke out so soon after he saw the man giving orders to the people.
“That was actually not Kenosha,” alleged Kenosha resident, Corvette Thompson, a military veteran, in an interview with Wisconsin Right Now on Aug. 29, when asked about the arson fires. “Those were out of town people.”
“I was up here at this gas station. There was a guy,” he said of Aug. 25, the night of many of the worst arson fires.
“They were organized. I didn’t know what they were going to do…They was like man, ‘We’re going to go here…’ He (the leader) gave them orders. They took off and left. Like eight cars. They went down here to 63rd. They turned right. The next thing I know, all uptown was on fire,” he said, referring to Aug. 25. “Most of them giving the orders was Black guys. They was like bullet proof stuff and walkie talkies. They was organized as hell. There was like eight cars of them…”
He said he has lived in the area for 30 years and knows everyone in the area, and he didn’t recognize any of the people with the man giving orders. “He (the leader) was lining the cars up…he had a walkie talkie… I didn’t know who the hell he was,” Thompson said. He said they were wearing all black and black Army pants. “Everybody had weapons. They had a lot.” He said the lead organizer was a “Black male, medium built, clean shaved and everything. Actually, to be honest with you a decent looking guy.”
He said they were saying, “You be the first one to go, you be second, you be third… the next thing I knew uptown was on fire.” He said the people in the cars were of different races.
“I didn’t recognize not one person who was in there,” he said.
Here’s a longer version of our interview with Thompson (although he prefers Corvette, he says his name was written as Carvette by accident on his birth certificate.)
Thompson also spoke about what he saw right before and during the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting. Rittenhouse is the teenager from Illinois charged with homicide for the shooting deaths of two men, which happened right near where Thompson lives in downtown Kenosha. The shootings happened the next day after the blazes in question.
We did a live stream of the arson fires on the night of the blazes. Our Aug. 25 live stream started shortly after the fires were already set.
We also obtained exclusive video of the fires that broke out shortly after Thompson said he saw the men. See that video and read that account here. Thompson said he’s “heartbroken” about the damage throughout Kenosha.
“Everybody was armed to the teeth,” said Thompson in an interview with Wisconsin Right Now’s Jim Piwowarczyk and Jessica McBride. “These are civilians who have weapons…”
Shortly before the shooting, he walked over to the gas station where clashes were breaking out between demonstrators and people there to protect people and property, and he saw rioters lighting a dumpster on fire (video shows Joseph Rosenbaum, who was later shot, pushing it at one point).
“The protesters started getting on him,” said Thompson, referring to Kyle Rittenhouse, 17.
Once the shooting broke out, he saw people “ducking behind stuff. He was actually shooting. I went to war already… I just went and jumped behind my girlfriend’s truck.” Thompson served in the Persian Gulf War.
He said he talked to Anthony Huber a few minutes before he was shot to death while hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard. “It kind of hurts my heart. I’m probably one of the last few guys who talked to the guy.” He didn’t remember what they said specifically but said they just explained pleasantries.
“To be honest with you, the younger white generation is going to change this country. They don’t have that stigma with them. They care about their friends. They don’t care what color they are…race has never been a problem with me,” said Thompson, whose mother marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
He’s also upset police pushed the protesters out of the park. “Why you going to push that into my front yard. I have my kids up here. Why are you also going to push them into a residential area?”
According to a press release from the ATF, its National Response Team arrived in Kenosha to “assist investigating arson cases.”
“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Milwaukee Field Office, the Kenosha Police Department, the Kenosha Fire Department, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin are seeking to speak to persons of interest who could advance the arson investigations of over 20 businesses and approximately 12 government owned vehicles that were set ablaze between August 24 and 25 in Kenosha,” the release says.
“We welcome the additional resources of ATF’s National Response Team, as they work in coordination with our officers to review surveillance video and follow leads to identify persons of interest,” said Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis. “We now need the public’s help to identify and hold these individuals accountable for the victimization of the business owners and members of our community who were affected by these arsons.”
“Partnership is key in investigating these arsons,” said Special Agent in Charge Kristen de Tineo, of the ATF Chicago Field Division, which oversees the Milwaukee Field Office. “The members of ATF’s National Response Team bring specialized talent and resources to assist the local police and fire departments in determining who is responsible for setting these fires. The expertise of the local departments, with assistance not only from the NRT but also the community, will bring resolution to these investigations. We need the public’s assistance in identifying those responsible, so we can bring them to justice.”
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