Other Group

Riot Kitchen

Riot Kitchen (RK) is a group of radical-left activists aligned with the extremist Antifa movement that traveled to protest and to riot locations around the country during anti-police civil unrest in the summer of 2020. The group claims to provide vegan and other food offerings free of charge to protesters. As of June 2020, the group was attempting to raise funds for a food truck and food service license in order to continue and expand its operations. [1]

Riot Kitchen originated in Seattle, Washington during the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP; also known as “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” or CHAZ), but its members have taken vehicles and equipment for protests to other cities. In August 2020, nine members of the group were arrested in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where protests and riots had erupted in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The group claimed that their members “were just there to feed people,” but police said they received a tip about suspicious vehicles with out-of-state license plates and alleged that they had found helmets, gas masks, body armor, fireworks, and suspected illegal drugs inside one of their vehicles. [2]

Activities

Seattle

Riot Kitchen operated in the self-declared Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, later renamed the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, throughout June 2020. During the 3-week occupation, rioters vandalized storefronts and threatened business owners who attempted to get help from law enforcement. [3] Four shootings occurred, including an incident when self-appointed armed vigilantes in the area fired nearly 30 rounds at a car with two teenagers inside, killing one and critically injuring the other. [4] Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan (D) initially dismissed concerns about the police-free zone, suggesting that the ongoing civil unrest was similar to San Francisco’s “Summer of Love” in 1967. However, she later acknowledged that “it was not the best choice of words.” [5] Soon afterwards, police cleared the six city blocks seized by protesters and arrested more than 30 people for assault, failure to disperse, obstruction, and unlawful weapon possession. [6]

In a promotional video for Riot Kitchen, founder Keisha Mae Blue said that “we were lucky with CHOP. It was mostly peaceful.” The video, which is featured on the group’s GoFundMe campaign profile, includes footage of Riot Ribs, a similar group based out of Portland, Oregon, which may indicate an affiliation between the two groups. [7]

Portland, Oregon

Riot Ribs, which endorsed Riot Kitchen on Twitter and may be an affiliated organization, participated in the Portland protests and raised more than $300,000 in donations. After approximately four weeks, the group announced on Twitter that it was “dissolving completely” and alleged that someone had been impersonating the group and soliciting donations. The group appeared to shut down on short notice, since it had previously announced that it would be expanding its operations. [8]

Kenosha

In August 2020, Riot Kitchen members left Seattle to participate in protests in Washington, D.C. However, they diverted to Kenosha to join new protests that started in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Kenosha police, assisted by U.S. Marshals, acted on a tip and apprehended members of the group while they were filling up fuel cans at a gas station. Police alleged that they found “helmets, gas masks, protective vests, illegal fireworks and suspected controlled substances” in the vehicles. [9] While the group claimed that they were arrested by “feds in unmarked vans,” Kenosha police said they wore appropriate identification and had to force entry into one of the vehicles because the driver attempted to escape. [10]

Leadership

Keisha Mae Blue

Keisha Mae Blue is the founder of Riot Kitchen. She was arrested in Kenosha and charged with disorderly conduct. Blue was among the 120 out-of-state protesters and rioters arrested in Kenosha. [11]

Jennifer Scheurle

Jennifer Scheurle sits on the Riot Kitchen board of directors. After members of the group were arrested in Kenosha, she issued a statement saying that the group supports “protesters of any kind” but that its members “were not there to stir up anything,” contradicting a police statement that alleged one of the group’s vehicles attempted to drive away when officers arrived on the scene. [12]

Fundraising

In addition to the GoFundMe campaign to obtain funding for a vehicle, Riot Kitchen solicits donations via Venmo and Paypal. [13] The group’s public Venmo history shows five donations in June 2020. [14]

References

  1.        RIOT KITCHEN Food Truck, GoFundMe, June 26, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.gofundme.com/f/mental-health-support-for-blm-seattle-protests ^
  2.    Louis Casiano, “Seattle-based activists arrested in Kenosha after filling up gas cans,” Fox News, August 28, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/us/seattle-activists-arrested-kenosha-gas-cans ^
  3.    Nellie Bowles, “Abolish the Police? Those Who Survived the Chaos in Seattle Aren’t So Sure,” The New York Times, August 7, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/07/us/defund-police-seattle-protests.html ^
  4.        “David Gutman and Sydney Brownstone, “’Everybody down!’: What happened at the shooting that killed a teenager and led to CHOP’s shutdown,” The Seattle Times, July 8, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/everybody-down-what-happened-at-the-chop-shooting-that-killed-a-teenager-and-led-to-the-areas-shutdown/ ^
  5.              Brandi Kruse, “CHOP: Seattle mayor walks back ‘summer of love’ comment,” Fox Seattle, June 22, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.q13fox.com/news/chop-seattle-mayor-walks-back-summer-of-love-comment ^
  6.        Emily Shapiro, “Seattle police clear CHOP zone, make arrests after mayor’s executive order,” ABC News, July 1, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/US/seattle-police-clear-chop-zone-make-arrests-mayors/story?id=71551625 ^
  7.       osm0sisProductions, “This Food Fights Fascists,” YouTube, July 22, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRKWwl1MwzQ&feature=emb_title ^
  8.   Jayati Ramakrishnan, “At Portland protests, Riot Ribs is dissolving completely after threats to the group’s safety,” OregonLive, July 27, 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/2020/07/at-portland-protests-riot-ribs-is-dissolving-completely-after-threats-to-groups-safety.html ^
  9.           Hal Bernton, “Eight people with Seattle-based Riot Kitchen released from custody in Kenosha, but vehicles held amid police investigation,” The Seattle Times, August 28, 2020.  Accessed October 18, 2020. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/eight-people-with-seattle-based-riot-kitchen-released-from-custody-in-kenosha-but-vehicles-held-amid-police-investigation/ ^
  10.          Ari Hoffman, “Seattle Antifa group arrested in Kenosha with riot gear, controlled substances,” The Post Millenial, August 28, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://thepostmillennial.com/portlands-riot-kitchen-arrested-in-kenosha-wisc-while-filling-large-gas-canisters ^
  11.        Bruce Vielmetti and Sarah Volpenhein, “More than 250 arrests in Kenosha unrest; most have been from the surrounding area,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 4, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2020/09/04/most-arrests-during-kenosha-unrest-have-been-surrounding-area/5701286002/ ^
  12. Taylor Ardrey, “Volunteers who were serving food to Kenosha protesters were arrested by police for ‘disorderly conduct,’ authorities say,” Insider, August 30, 2020. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.insider.com/members-of-riot-kitchen-were-detained-by-officers-in-kenosha-2020-8 ^
  13.        “Get Involved,” Riot Kitchen. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://www.riotkitchen.org/get-involved ^
  14. Maehem Riot, Venmo. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://venmo.com/riotkitchen206 ^
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