Police fire tear gas to disperse Kenosha protesters
It was the second night of clashes after police shot and wounded a Black man, Jacob Blake
KENOSHA, Wis. (WBAY) - Police deployed tear gas in an attempt to disperse protesters who converged on the Kenosha County courthouse during a second night of clashes after the police shooting of a Black man.
Protesters chanted, “No justice, no peace” minutes before the 8 p.m. curfew. Police fired the tear gas about 30 minutes after the curfew took effect, but not all the protesters left.
Video of the shooting of Jacob Blake was captured on cell phone video and shared on Facebook Sunday evening. The Kenosha Police Department says they were called for a “domestic incident.”
The video shows officers with guns drawn following Blake as he approaches his vehicle. Blake reaches into the SUV and a white officer pulls on Blake’s shirt and fires multiple times from behind. At least seven gun shots are heard in the video. Police have not said how many shots were fired or if both officers fired their weapons. Blake was taken to a hospital for surgery. Kenosha Police said Sunday that Blake was in serious condition.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has authorized 125 members of the Wisconsin National Guard to support law enforcement in Kenosha County during protests over the police shooting.
“I know folks across our state will be making their voices heard in Kenosha and in communities across Wisconsin. Every person should be able to express their anger and frustration by exercising their First Amendment rights and report on these calls to action without any fear of being unsafe,” said Gov. Evers. “This is a limited mobilization of the National Guard focused on supporting the needs of local first responders to protect critical infrastructure, such as utilities and fire stations, and to ensure Kenoshians are able to assemble safely.”
On Monday, Evers called a Special Session of the State Legislature to take up a package of police accountability bills in response to the shooting of Blake.
The Special Session is to convene at noon on Aug. 31. The legislation includes use of force standards for all law enforcement agencies, use of force training, prohibiting the use of chokeholds and the ban of no-knock warrants. Scroll down to the bottom of this story for links to the bills.
“Today I am calling for a Special Session of the Legislature to take up the package of legislation we announced earlier this year,” said Gov. Evers. “We must begin the long but important path toward ensuring our state and our country start to live up to our promises of equity and justice. I am urging the Legislature to rise to this occasion and give this special session the urgent and productive effort this moment demands and that the people of Wisconsin deserve.”
Evers, a Democrat, and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, held a news conference Monday afternoon to announce the Special Session and to condemn the shooting of Blake.
Blake family attorney Ben Crump says Blake’s three sons, ages 8, 5 and 3, were in the vehicle when he was shot.
Crump says Blake, 29, was “helping to de-escalate” the domestic incident when “police drew their weapons and tasered him.”
“As he was walking away to check on his children, police fired their weapons several times into his back at point blank range. Blake’s three sons were only a few feet away and witnessed police shoot their father,” Crump says.
Crump represents the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, each killed by police.
The Wisconsin Professional Police Association doesn’t represent officers in the Kenosha Police Department but issued this statement on behalf of other officers statewide:
The shooting has drawn response from national political figures, including Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris.
“These shots pierce the soul of our nation,” Biden said.
Harris called for an immediate investigation and for officers involved in the shooting to be held accountable.
In a statement released after the shooting, Gov. Evers said, “I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and our country for far too long.”
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) says he supports an investigation and urged demonstrators to “remain peaceful.”
U.S. Sen Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) echoed that statement with a call for an investigation and peaceful protests.
U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) warned against “irresponsible speculation that further divides our state.”
Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) urged patience for the investigation and to avoid “racing towards judgment.”
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the shooting. The officers involved were placed on administrative leave. That’s protocol in Wisconsin officer-involved shooting investigations.
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice is vigorously and thoroughly investigating yesterday’s officer-involved shooting in Kenosha. As with all investigations we conduct, we will unwaveringly pursue justice in this case,” says Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul. “I hope for a full recovery for the man fighting for his life. He and his family are in my thoughts, as is the entire Kenosha community.
“In most cases, including this case, Wisconsin state law grants primary prosecutorial authority to the district attorney, who decides whether to file charges. We will work closely with the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office throughout this case.”
The shooting sparked a night of demonstrations and protests in Kenosha. A car dealership was set on fire. Police and emergency vehicles were damaged. The county courthouse was closed Monday due to damage during the unrest.
Kenosha County has declared a state of emergency curfew for 8 p.m. Monday east of I-94.
Members of the sports community have spoken out about the shooting. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, “there’s a systemic problem. This is going to be an all to common sighting in this country until it’s fixed.”
Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur says he met with members of his team’s leadership council to discuss the shooting.
GOVERNOR EVERS’ POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY LEGISLATION
- LRB 6273/LRB 6424:
- Establishes statewide use of force standards for all law enforcement agencies that includes that the primary duty of law enforcement is to preserve the life of all individuals; that deadly force is to be used only as the last resort; that officers should use skills and tactics that minimize the likelihood that force will become necessary; that, if officers must use physical force, it should be the least amount of force necessary to safely address the threat; and that law enforcement officers must take reasonable action to stop or prevent any unreasonable use of force by their colleagues;
- Prohibits discipline of a law enforcement officer for reporting a violation of a law enforcement agency's use of force policy; and
- Requires the Law Enforcement Standards Board (LESB) to develop a model use of force policy for law enforcement agencies.
- LRB 6274/ LRB 6425:
- Requires each law enforcement officer to annually complete at least eight hours of training on use of force options and de-escalation techniques.
- LRB 6275/LRB 6426:
- Creates a $1,000,000 grant program, administered by the Department of Justice, to fund community organizations that are utilizing evidence-based outreach and violence interruption strategies to mediate conflicts, prevent retaliation and other potentially violent situations, and connect individuals to community supports.
- LRB 6276/LRB 6427:
- Requires law enforcement agencies to develop policies prohibiting the use of chokeholds.
- LRB 6277/LRB 6428:
- Requires each law enforcement agency to not only prepare a policy regarding the use of force by its law enforcement officers, but to make it available publicly online.
- LRB 6281/LRB 6429:
- Creates a civil cause of action for unnecessarily summoning a law enforcement officer with intent to infringe upon a right of the person under the Wisconsin Constitution or the U.S. Constitution; unlawfully discriminate against the person; cause the person to feel harassed, humiliated, or embarrassed; cause the person to be expelled from a place in which the person is lawfully located; damage the person's reputation or standing within the community; or damage the person's financial, economic, consumer, or business prospects or interests.
- LRB 6283/LRB 6430:
- Requires that the Department of Justice publish an annual report on use of force incidents, including incidents where there was a shooting, where a firearm was discharged in the direction of a person (even if there was no injury), and where other serious bodily harm resulted from the incident; and
- Requires certain demographic information to be collected about each incident and reported annually by DOJ on its website.
- LRB 6289/LRB 6431:
- Prohibits no-knock search warrants.
- LRB 6292/LRB 6432:
- Makes certain changes to the responsibilities of the LESB, including requiring LESB to also regulate jail and juvenile detention officer training standards and regulate recruitment standards for the recruiting of new law enforcement, jail, and juvenile detention officers;
- Requires each law enforcement agency to maintain an employment file for each employee;
- and Requires each potential candidate for a position in an agency, jail, or facility that is or has been employed by a different agency, jail, or facility to authorize their previous employer to disclose his or her employment files to the hiring entity.
Copyright 2020 WBAY. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.