Did “outside agitators” invade Kenosha?

An investigation into who AG Barr called "violent instigators."

Did “outside agitators” invade Kenosha? An investigation.

Are outside agitators responsible for unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin?

A press release shared by the Kenosha Police Department on Sunday claimed that 102 of the 175 people arrested last week were from outside of Kenosha. Arrestees from out of town were from 44 different cities, according to Kenosha PD.

Two days later, President Trump and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr paid a visit to Kenosha to survey the city after a week's worth of civil unrest. During a press conference, AG Barr doubled down on the outside agitators claims but with even more ominous details.

“We were picking up information that these violent instigators were coming to Kenosha,” Barr said at the roundtable event. “They were coming from California, Washington State, a lot from Chicago, and they were coming up to Kenosha. So we expected matters to get worse.”

We’ve seen cities, such as Minneapolis, push the outside agitator narrative earlier this year...only for evidence to prove that these claims were untrue. So, what’s happening in Kenosha? 

To find out, I scraped the records off the Kenosha PD’s inmate search which provides names, addresses, and more about those arrested. I matched up the arrest records with the claims detailed in the Kenosha PD’s press release, only including arrests that appeared to be connected to the protests and fit within the timeframe of when they put out the release. (There are a few discrepancies with their press release and the data I was able to pull up, but the overall number arrested matches up.)

Here’s what I found.

The number of people arrested who list their address as within the city of Kenosha appears to be accurate.

However, the messaging surrounding everyone else is misleading.

Barr claims that “violent instigators” are coming into Kenosha from California, Washington State, and “a lot from Chicago.”

I found a total of 10 protesters from Washington state who were arrested between August 24th and August 30th in Kenosha. Another 7 were from Chicago. There was one single protester from California.

So, where are all these outside agitators in Kenosha, Wisconsin coming from then?


According to the arrestee database, a total of 127 out of the 175 people who were arrested in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week are from within the state. Of those Wisconsinites who were arrested at the protests, the vast majority live in cities that are between a 10 to 45 minute drive away from Kenosha. 

If a protester wasn’t from Kenosha, it was likely they were from nearby cities in Wisconsin such as Pleasant Prairie, Racine, or Milwaukee. 

That leaves us with around 48 people who aren’t from Wisconsin. Out of that amount, 29 are from Illinois. Why so many from Illinois? Because it’s extremely close to Kenosha! For example, 6 out of those 29 were from the town of Zion, Illinois. That’s approximately 10 miles from Kenosha, closer than some of those cities within Wisconsin.

What about those 10 protesters from Washington, the state with the most “outside agitators” after Illinois? Barr warned about them!

Nine of those arrested were from a Seattle-based volunteer group called Riot Kitchen, which has been providing food for Black Lives Matter protesters since June. You can see what they’ve been cooking up on their Twitter account. Kenosha police say they pulled the group over after they were tipped off about their out-of-state plates.

That brings us to what sort of crime these “violent instigators” are up to. Poring over the data I found that the vast majority of the people arrested last week were charged with the crime of staying out past the government-ordered curfew or for small violations like disorderly conduct.

Last week, two Kenosha residents were shot and killed while attending the protests. President Trump has defended the actions of the shooter, who is not from Kenosha, Wisconsin. He lives about 40 minutes away in Antioch, Illinois. And of course, the shooter is not included in these stats, which are being used to depict protesters as violent outsiders. That’s because he fled the state and was arrested back home.