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Wisconsin police shooting of Jacob Blake: Live updates from Kenosha

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Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian talks to protestors outside the safety building. After he was shouted down he returned to the building. Police fired pepper spray at the crowd to prevent them from entering.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Journal Sentinel reporters are in Kenosha in the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back multiple times by police Sunday. Check back for updates.

More: Prominent figures react to the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, including Joe Biden

More: Kenosha businesses damaged and vehicles burned after police officer shoots Jacob Blake in the back

9:15 a.m.: Business owners assess damage on State Street in Madison

The smell of smoke and spilled liquor hung over State Street on Tuesday morning, following a night of unrest in Madison.

Up and down State Street, business owners were out evaluating damage, sweeping up smashed glass from windows and rehanging plywood on windows. Among the most heavily damaged storefronts were Teddywedgers Sandwich Shop, the It’s Sugar candy store and Badger Liquors – which was looted on Monday night. Bottles from Badger Liquor were scattered along State Street, smashed and broken. A bus stop on State Street also bore damage from the night, with all the windows smashed out.

Several buildings along State Street were also tagged with graffiti, with anti-police messaging as well as Black Lives Matter tags.

On Mifflin Street, the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management office had windows smashed in, with graffiti that read “Here are your premiums.” The UW Credit Union on Mifflin was also damaged, with crews working Tuesday morning to sweep up broken glass from the windows and hanging up fresh plywood.

— Laura Schulte

8:55 a.m.: Influential lobbyist building vandalized in Madison

The headquarters of one of the state’s most influential lobbying groups was set on fire and vandalized late Monday.

A crowd of hundreds setting fires and damaging property in downtown Madison to protest police brutality threw a Molotov cocktail at the entrance of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce’s offices on East Washington Avenue. The fire quickly dissipated.

The crowd smashed the building’s windows and spray painted, “you have stolen more than we could ever loot” on its side.

“You have stolen more than we could ever loot” is written on the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce building on East Washington Avenue in Madison on Aug. 25, 2020. (Photo: Laura Schulte)

WMC was one of a number of businesses damaged by crowds in downtown Madison late Monday and early Tuesday.

According to Madison police, about 500 people marching around downtown Madison began setting fires in dumpsters and trash cans, breaking windows, and looting.

“One business was entered, and members of the crowd poured what appeared to be gasoline inside it, then attempted to start it on fire,” according to an incident report on the night.

Six people were arrested.

— Molly Beck

8:15 a.m.: Police arrest organizer of Madison protests, Jordan King

Police early Tuesday arrested one of the most high-profile organizers of Madison protests against police brutality – the best friend of Tony Robinson, a biracial teenager who was killed by a Madison police officer in 2015.

Jordan King, who spoke at a march around Madison the day after Robinson was killed and has led peaceful demonstrations in the five years since, was arrested at around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Police are holding King at the Dane County jail on charges alleging he damaged state-owned land, damaged a cemetery, caused property damage worth more than $2,500 and carried a concealed weapon, according to jail records.

His arrest came at the conclusion of riots in downtown Madison protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black Kenosha man who was shot repeatedly in front of his children on Sunday by police officers.

For hours, the crowd lit fires, smashed windows and damaged the state Capitol, according to Journal Sentinel eyewitness accounts and accounts reported by journalists from other news outlets.

Will Cioci, a reporter for Wisconsin Center for Investigative Reporting, said police pulled up onto a curb and jumped out of a vehicle to arrest King.

“Based on the timestamps on my photos, 83 seconds passed between them first making contact with the man and him being pushed into the car,” Cioci tweeted.

— Molly Beck

7:51 a.m. Chicago Sun-Times reports that Blake paralyzed from waist down

Quoting Jacob Blake’s father, also named Jacob Blake, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that his son is paralyzed from the waist down.

The elder Blake said he did not know if the injury is permanent. 

“I want to put my hand on my son’s cheek and kiss him on his forehead, and then I’ll be OK,” Blake’s father said. “I’ll kiss him with my mask. The first thing I want to do is touch my son.”

— JR Radcliffe

12:12 a.m.: Protests continue in Madison

The smell of fire hung over downtown Madison just after midnight Tuesday, after peaceful protests once again erupted into flames despite an impending rainstorm.

Protests in Wisconsin’s capital city started around 9 p.m., drawing out hundreds of protestors who were largely peaceful. The group marched up and down State Street and other streets near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, drawing students into their ranks, according to tweets from Emily Hamer, a reporter with the Wisconsin State Journal.

As night fell, the protests became more tumultuous as the number of people in the crowd dwindled slightly. Several dumpsters were set on fire, according to tweets from Capitol Times reporter Jessie Opoien, and firefighters were working to extinguish the blazes. Tweets also showed police on horseback working to push protestors away from a liquor store on State Street after the door was busted in.

The protesters were still out despite a severe storm rolling into the city, bringing claps of thunder and rain.

A Journal Sentinel reporter saw people looting Warby Parker and other stores along State Street, and noted that windows at UW Credit Union on the square surrounding the capitol were completely bashed in.

MONDAY, AUG. 24

11 p.m. Buildings set on fire on 60th Street

Several buildings, including a Wisconsin Department of Corrections building, along 60th Street were set on fire Monday night.

The Community Corrections Division building, 1212 60th St., was in flames late Monday. Multiple cars were also on fire in a lot down the street at 60th Street and 11th Avenue, next to a church.

B&L Office Furniture was completely engulfed in flames at the same intersection.

Cars at a Budget Motors car dealership, at 60th Street and 11th Avenue, were also vandalized and damaged, one car horn sounding over and over.

10:55 p.m. Motorcycle shop owner boards up business to avoid vandals

As he boarded up the windows to Sunset Motors on Monday, owner T.C. Christenson, 77, recalled the riots over Vietnam and civil rights during the 1960s. He compared those days to this era of COVID-19 and protests against police brutality.

“There is a different angle but it’s the same kind of event,” said Christenson, as he placed boards over his business’s windows Monday because “we’re worried about chaos raining down tonight.”

“And these cops killing Black people – it’s not just Black people, it’s people. What’s the mentality of someone who does that? Who does something like that?”

Christenson and John Gregory, an engineer and the founder of Sunset Motors, formed a bond over motorcycles, which was Christenson’s dream – to make money from racing. He won four world championships in the 1970s in motorcycle drag racing.

He said the coronavirus has all but killed his business. Pointing to the outside of his motorcycle shop, Christenson said, “the last thing I need is someone breaking in my windows, I can’t afford that.“

But he doesn’t blame Black Lives Matter or protesters or even the opportunists who take advantage of the chaos to cause damage and loot. He blames police. 

“The cops are causing all this. They’re out there murdering people. I don’t think there’s no answer to this; how do you change people like this?” Christenson said, shaking his head. 

– Talis Shelbourne

10 p.m. Hundreds of protesters remain in Kenosha two hours past curfew

Two hours past the city of Kenosha’s 8 p.m. curfew the standoff between protesters and sheriffs deputies continues. Protesters have been lighting off fireworks and tossing them at a line of police at the courthouse. Sheriff’s deputies have responded with smoke bombs and flash bang grenades.

Hundreds of protesters remain, with many pushed back from the area in front of the county courthouse. Several dozen are standing within 30 feet of officers.

A rioter was seen throwing an incendiary device inside one of the city’s garbage trucks that had been parked across the street to prevent motorists from driving past the courthouse. Flames erupted in the cab.

– Ricardo Torres

8:45 p.m. Jacob Blake’s father will speak at Al Sharpton’s March on Washington event Friday

The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke Monday to Jacob Blake’s father, who called the civil rights leader for his support. Blake’s father will speak at Sharpton’s March on Washington commemoration on Friday, Rachel Noerdlinger, publicist for the National Action Network, told The Associated Press.

Blake’s grandfather, Jacob Blake Sr., was a prominent minister and civil rights leader in the Chicago area who helped organize a march and spoke in support of a comprehensive housing law in Evanston, Illinois, days after the 1968 slaying of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

– The Associated Press

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8:30 p.m. Tear gas deployed on Kenosha protesters

Police used tear gas on protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse after some people in the crowd threw objects at them.

Police and deputies were lined up in front of the courthouse outfitted in riot gear. A crowd of protesters was gathered in Civic Center Park across from the courthouse. It was past the 8 p.m. curfew that Kenosha County had imposed.

Some people in the crowd were throwing water bottles at officers. Others were standing and chanting, “Black lives matter.” Some string musicians were playing classical music, reading from sheet music, a conductor keeping them in time.

Law enforcement told people to disperse or else they would deploy more tear gas and told them to stop throwing items.

Some people continued throwing water bottles, and law enforcement soon used more tear gas on the crowd.

– Jessica Rodriguez

7:50 p.m. I-94 exit ramps closed in Kenosha County

All exit ramps off I-94 from Somers Road/Highway E to the Illinois state line in Kenosha County have been closed, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

The exit ramps were blocked off by police vehicles and trucks in some places, according to traffic cameras. Closures began around 6 p.m. Monday. It’s not clear why the exits were closed.

The ramp closures were a local decision and the Department of Natural Resources is providing support as part of Kenosha County’s mutual aid request, according to Gov. Tony Evers’ administration.

The ramps closed include the exits to Somers Road/Highway E, state highways 142, 158 and 50 and Wilmot Road/Highway C.

– Sarah Volpenhein

7:20 p.m. Kenosha representative in office just three weeks joins marchers

Kenosha Ald. Shayna Griffin, who has been in office just three weeks, decided to join marchers on Monday.

“Fear is making everything worse,“ Griffin said. “The police are fearful. The community is fearful. The fear is making everything worse. We need to address the issues and at least acknowledge there is a problem… Life is harder when you’re a person of color and some people don’t even want to admit that.“

Griffin said she is against violence and the destruction that occurred in Kenosha Sunday night but peoples’ emotions are raw.

“The initial reaction is not always the best reaction,“ Griffin said. “Material things can be replaced but life cannot.”

– Ricardo Torres

7:15 p.m. ACLU criticizes use of National Guard in Kenosha

The ACLU of Wisconsin criticized the deployment of the National Guard and the Kenosha Police Department’s use of pepper spray against protesters and journalists and said Monday that it was sending a team of legal observers to monitor the actions of law enforcement.

“People in Kenosha have a constitutional right to express their indignation over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, as well as to demand an end to the epidemic of police violence that has systematically harmed and killed Black and brown people for generations,” ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris Ott said in a statement.

“We know that militarizing policing often only serves to exacerbate tensions, and opens the door to more police misconduct and violence,” Ott said. “The response to protesters over police brutality cannot be even more brutality; entering a community armed with tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear achieves just the opposite effect.”

The ACLU urged state and local officers and the National Guard to respect demonstrators’ First Amendment rights and avoid making arrests or using force, including tear gas, unless it is necessary to protect human life.

“Tear gas has been banned as a method of warfare and should never be used against protesters exercising their constitutional rights — particularly during a pandemic spread by coughing, and which attacks people’s respiratory systems,” Ott said.

– Annysa Johnson

6:50 p.m. Marchers set off from Civic Center Park

A crowd of hundreds of people protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake has started marching from Civic Center Park in Kenosha, where they stopped to listen to activists.

Activists encouraged people to vote and get involved in local government.

The crowd started north toward Sheridan Road and 52nd Street before heading east and then turning south on 6th Avenue.

Some of the roads were blocked and not open to traffic, as protesters walked in the streets shouting things like, “What’s his name? Jacob Blake” and “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.”

Ja’Mal Green, a Chicago activist, said there have been a lot of police shootings in the Midwest.

“Wherever that happens we have to make sure that all those families know we are standing in solidarity with them,” Green said.

– Jessica Rodriguez

6:30 p.m. Wisconsin faith leaders ask for independent investigation

Faith leaders across the state condemned the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, offering their prayers for Blake and his family, and some demanding changes in police practices and an independent investigation. 

“We express our shock and anger at what appears to be an unjustified and overwhelming use of force,” leaders of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Kenosha’s Congregations United to Serve Humanity and the statewide WISDOM coalition said in a joint statement.

“There is still a lot of work to be done in our country when it comes to race relations, the role of police, and a punitive criminal justice system as a whole,” it said. “We are failing our communities, our nation, and the sacredness of life that our diverse faith communities celebrate.”

They called for the implementation of community policing strategies to strengthen relationships between officers and the communities they serve and said everyone, including police officers, “must be held accountable for their actions.”

The Islamic Society of Milwaukee called the shooting unreasonable and excessive and called for an independent and open investigation and prosecution of the officers involved.

“From our perspective, this is a clear case of police brutality and a complete disregard for human life,” the state’s largest Islamic association said in a statement. “Police departments across the nation must uproot those officers who are prone to violence, particularly those who express extreme aggressiveness towards African Americans.”

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki offered his prayers for Blake, his family and the city of Kenosha, acknowledging the “sin of racism” and the fear and anger felt by all who were present when he was shot.

But Listecki urged people to reject violence in response, saying it “can never be the means to attain peace and justice.”

– Annysa Johnson

6:08 p.m. Milwaukee sports teams, Aaron Rodgers, Khris Middleton speak out about Kenosha shooting

Milwaukee sports teams and athletes Aaron Rodgers, Khris Middleton and LeBron James are among those expressing their anger and sadness over the shooting by Kenosha police of Jacob Blake Sunday night.

The Milwaukee Brewers issued a statement:

The video of the shooting of Jacob Blake is deeply disturbing and raises many of the same questions we have been asking related to social injustice and racism in our communities. Once again, we are faced with images of a horrific incident that show at appear to be inexplicable and excessive force inflicted upon a Black individual. It stirs emotions of anger, confusion and great sadness at a time when we need healing and lasting change. We pray for a full recovery for Jacob, and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.

The Milwaukee Bucks also issued a statement saying it was praying for Blake’s recovery:

We stand firmly against reoccurring issues of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the black community. Our organization will continue to stand for all black lives as we demand accountability and systemic change on behalf of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sylville Smith, Ernest Lacy, Dontre Hamilton, Tony Robinson, Joel Acevedo and countless other victims. We will work to enact a policy change so these incidents no longer exist.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Bucks reporter Matt Velazquez asked forward Khris Middleton his thoughts about Blake’s shooting following today’s 121-106 victory over Orlando. Middleton told Velazquez:

I mean, I think this is why we have so many people outraged all over the country. The man was shot seven times at point-blank range in the back. It doesn’t get any sicker than that. I think people are starting to see why Black people, colored people are so afraid of police because at any time, no matter what type of position, no matter what they did right or wrong, their first act is to shoot us. That’s a very scary situation to be in when they’re supposed to protect us.

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said in a video:

There’s a systemic problem and until the problem is fixed, this is going to be an all too common sight in this country. It hits home being not far from Green Bay. I’m not going to comment directly on the video until more facts come out. Obviously it’s something where as a non-police officer I think a lot of us, the natural question is – when is lethal force necessary? Again that goes to a systematic problem that needs to be addressed at some point.

Los Angeles Lakers super star LeBron James retweeted a video of Blake’s shooting and added:

And y’all wonder why we say what we say about the Police!! Someone please tell me WTF is this???!!! Exactly another black man being targeted. This (expletive) is so wrong and so sad!! Feel so sorry for him, his family and OUR PEOPLE!! We want JUSTICE

– Meg Jones

5:08 p.m. Kenosha post office closes because of unrest, mail diverted to Pleasant Prairie

Because of protests in Kenosha the city’s main post office at 5606 Sheridan Road has been shut down with retail service and delivery operations relocated to the post office in Pleasant Prairie. 

Post office box holders and customers in Zip Codes 53140,53142, 53143 and 53144 who received an attempted delivery notice can pick up their mail at the Pleasant Prairie Post Office during retail hours.  

Officials said they don’t know when the post office in Kenosha will reopen.   

Postal officials advised customers who want to mail items or buy stamps can do so at the post offices in Pleasant Prairie or Somers as well as Festival Foods, 3207 80th St, Kenosha or Meijer, 7701 Green Bay Road.

– Meg Jones

4:27 p.m.: Group from press conference begins march through Kenosha

After waiting in the Civic Center Park — the original location for the afternoon press conference — a group of about 200 began marching south on 10th Avenue in Kenosha.

People came out of their businesses and looked out windows as the group of marchers passed by, mostly young people and a few families, many carrying signs.

Some people handed out water bottles to the marchers in the scorching heat.

Families with young children came to stand on the sidewalk and raise their fists as the group marched past.

Arriving at the intersection of 60th Street and 22nd Avenue, the group sat down for a “die in,” blocking the road with bicycles and their bodies and starting chants.

—Sophie Carson

3 p.m.: Mayor’s press conference moves inside with limited access; journalists and others outside pepper-sprayed

The situation in Kenosha became tense when a press conference scheduled for Civic Center Park was moved inside the public safety building minutes before its start time.

Hundreds rushed to the building, where Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian came out to talk but was quickly surrounded, his words inaudible.

He turned and went inside the building, and many in the crowd attempted to follow.

A door to the public safety building was snapped off its hinges and police in riot gear came to guard the entrance. They then pepper-sprayed the crowd; five or 10 people were hit, including photographers from AP and Getty.

The remaining crowd, including many members of the media, were not allowed inside.

Alvin Owens, a former teacher at Kenosha schools, had tried calming the crowd so people could hear the mayor speak, which didn’t work.

He ended taking some spray to one of his eyes and said it “burned like fire.”

He wondered why the presser was moved inside: “Why did they do that? Why were we moved? I don’t think that would have happened if it (the conference) happened in the park.”

Darryl Morin, national president of Forward Latino and a main organizer of the press conference, said things were set up and “ready to go” when they mayor’s office called to say the conference should move inside due to the size of the crowd

—Talis Shelbourne, Sophie Carson and Elliot Hughes

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