Robert Cobb: Beaten but not broken

Robert Cobb has done the difficult; for many, the impossible. He has forgiven. 

The 70-year-old good Samaritan was brutally assaulted while trying to defend the century-old Danish Brotherhood from looters and arsonists. Despite his efforts, the building burned to the ground. It was the second night of riots that would leave much of Kenosha’s Uptown Business District in ashes. 

Armed with a fire extinguisher, Cobb sprayed the criminals — only to be knocked unconscious by a rioter who hit him with a plastic bottle filled with concrete. The elderly man’s jaw was broken in three places and he suffered deep lacerations to his head and nose. He was sucker punched from behind. 

The violent encounter was caught on video in live time, as a horrified nation watched. 

Nearly a year after the violent demonstrations that followed an officer-involved shooting of a black man, Cobb doesn’t have time or the disposition to hold a grudge. 

“I’m a survivor. Life moves on. Everyday is a new day,” he said. “I can’t blame the actions of a few on any particular race or people.” 

But Cobb does want to know why? Why would anyone truly seeking social justice burn down a neighborhood where so many poor, marginalized people live, work and shop.  

“I know it’s the ignorance of a few people, but I can’t understand why they picked a street where the homeless lived,” he said. “There were so many businesses on that street that weren’t doing well.” 

Dozens of them went up in flames, including Cobb’s employer, the Mattress Shop. 

And Cobb still wonders why it took Gov. Tony Evers so long to send the help that Kenosha law enforcement so desperately needed to check the destruction and the violence. 

“I definitely think there could have been more done, especially after the second day of it,” he said. “I thought they would have been more prepared.” 

They weren’t. 

Evers, placating the radical left, refused to send in adequate National Guard numbers until five days after the riots began. By the time necessary reinforcements arrived, Kenosha was looking at a reported $50 million damage to its historic business districts and Cobb was recovering from serious injuries. 

Nearly a year after being attacked, Cobb said his jaw still isn’t right and his “teeth don’t want to heal.” He’s back working at the Mattress Shop, in another location down from a ruined Uptown in transition. 

He’s sad, surveying the damage.

“Those people over there, that whole area is devastated from Sheridan Road up,” he said. “I definitely think the state could have done more.” 

But Cobb isn’t the kind of guy to look back too long, and he won’t let his life be governed by bitterness. 

“I’m just another person in a struggling world, and life has been good to me,” he said.

Failing Our Communities