KENOSHA, Wisconsin – Residents in Kenosha were cleaning up Thursday after four nights of protests in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake.
A seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department, Rusten Sheskey, shot Blake in the back seven times on Sunday, the Wisconsin Department of Justice said Wednesday in its first description of the shooting. The U.S. Department of Justice also confirmed it has opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting.
The shooting has triggered widespread protests in Wisconsin and beyond, and NBA players decided in a Thursday morning meeting to try and keep playing inside the bubble one day after multiple professional sports teams and players refused to play games Wednesday, including the Milwaukee Bucks.
Vice President Mike Pence was dropped as a commencement speaker at a Wisconsin college Thursday after he condemned what he said were looters and rioters causing chaos in cities across the United States during his address at the Republican National Convention.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes gave a video address in response to the police involved shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.
Here’s what we know Thursday:
Community cleans up after peaceful protests in Kenosha
Archbishop Jerome Listecki led a group of priests in a public prayer Thursday morning in the Civic Center Park in Kenosha.
A priest said the group had come after Listecki conducted Mass at St Mark’s in Kenosha, at the invitation of local parishes. The group then left to tour the area damaged during arsons and looting earlier in the week. The prayer was barely audible amid the noise of cleanup efforts.
Staff from Harborside Academy, a charter 6-12 school across from the Kenosha County Courthouse, picked up trash in the area before their 8:30 am meeting. Meanwhile, Principal William Haithcock distributed coffee and kringle to government cleanup workers, volunteers and even the news media,
Garbage trucks that had been blocking the courthouse, burned out by arsonists, were also towed away Thursday morning.
The scene in Kenosha on Wednesday was a contrast to the night before, when protesters clashed with law enforcement for hours and a gunman shot three people, two of whom died, shortly before midnight.
There were no clashes with law enforcement as of 11:15 p.m. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter did not see any civilians with assault-style weapons.
Not long after 7 p.m., an armored vehicle arrived at Civic Center Park where protesters were gathered, and police warned protesters they were in violation of the curfew. But protesters stayed, milling around the park, and later marched through the streets of Kenosha.
The crowd that marched paused at on intersection, where they blocked traffic and chanted, “No justice, no peace,” before continuing. Some protesters carried signs saying “Black lives matter” and “Stop police violence.”
Tuesday’s night’s violence prompted the White House to authorize sending 2,000 National Guard troops from other states to Wisconsin. President Donald Trump said Wednesday in a series of tweets that “federal law enforcement and the National Guard” will be sent to Kenosha to restore law and order.
The Wisconsin National Guard already has 10,000 troops. Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday ordered 250 to Kenosha. He doubled the number Wednesday.
Fires set, windows broken in Oakland protest; Minneapolis sees unrest
Across the country, protests in Oakland, California, were more chaotic Wednesday night as police said multiple fires were set, businesses vandalized and windows broken.
The Oakland Police Department tweeted that 600 to 700 people took part in the protests and several were arrested. Calling them “violent protesters,” police say they vandalized and set a fire at the Alameda County Superior Court.
In Minneapolis, where three months ago George Floyd was killed as a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, unrest sparked violence and store looting that broke out downtown following what authorities said was misinformation about the suicide death of a Black homicide suspect.
The Minneapolis mayor imposed a curfew Wednesday night and requested National Guard help. “What we’re calling for right now is peace,” Mayor Jacob Frey said. “What we’re calling for right now is for people to return to their homes.”
As night fell in Chicago, hundreds of people gathered in Union Park on the city’s West Side for a vigil. Speakers invoked the names of Blake and Trayford Pellerin, held a moment of silence and called for the defunding of the police.
Emcee Jae Rice said the police shooting of Blake hit him even more deeply because he grew up with Blake in Evanston, Ill.
“It is extremely disheartening to have to gather under these circumstances yet again,” Rice said. “It is extremely disheartening that, even with everyone watching them, the police don’t know how to stop killing black people.”
Crews continue to assess damage Wednesday morning after a third night of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man. Officials say two people were shot to death and another was wounded overnight. (Aug. 26)
Mike Pence dropped from commencement speech over Kenosha
Wisconsin Lutheran College said Vice President Mike Pence won’t serve as the school’s commencement speaker after “careful consideration of the escalating events in Kenosha.”
The college, which is in Milwaukee, said it has chosen Rev. Mark Jeske of St. Marcus Lutheran Church as a substitute speaker. The college said the change was a joint decision.
“Vice President Pence understands and supports Wisconsin Lutheran College’s decision to prioritize the safety and well-being of their students and wishes the students well as they celebrate the accomplishment of graduating from college and as they embark on their next journey,” said Devin M. O’Malley, Pence’s spokesman.
Pence condemned what he said were looters and rioters causing chaos in cities across the United States Wednesday night during his address at the Republican National Convention.
“The violence must stop,” Pence said. “Last week, Joe Biden didn’t say one word about the violence and chaos engulfing cities across this country, so let me be clear: the violence must stop – whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha.”
Pence said he and Trump “always support the right of Americans to peaceful protest, but rioting and looting is not peaceful protest.” He added that those that do engage in illegal activity will be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Tucker Carlson defends vigilante shooter: Fox News host says he ‘had to maintain order when no one else would’
Biden, Buttigieg and Sanders call out Trump over violence
Symone Sanders, a Biden campaign senior adviser, said the Trump campaign offered no plan for dealing with the coronavirus, the economy or racial justice protests during the Republican National Convention. She blasted Vice President Mike Pence for saying Wednesday that the country would fall into lawlessness under a Biden administration while violent protests are happening now.
“With all due respect, Mr. Vice President, that violence is happening right now in Donald Trump’s America,” Sanders said. “That division is happening on your watch. You own this. Donald Trump has spent his entire time actively fueling hate and division.”
Sanders also accused the Trump administration of trying to benefit from the protests politically.
“What’s especially shocking and appalling is that this morning Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, who spoke last night at the RNC, just celebrated this terrible pain and destruction happening on Trump’s watch, saying on Fox News, and I quote: ‘The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who is best on public safety and law and order,’” Sanders said. “Well let me just say, I have news for Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump. Welcoming the suffering is nihilistic and disgusting. And Donald Trump is in charge right now.”
Pete Buttigieg, a former Democratic primary rival of Biden and former mayor of South Bend, Ind., echoed the same theme.
“Donald Trump is president now,” Buttigieg said. “All of this is unfolding on his watch.”
NBA will continue season after MLB, WNBA, MLS teams and players protest
NBA players decided in a Thursday morning meeting to try and finish the season inside the bubble, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
Athletes from multiple major professional sports leagues sat out their games Wednesday in a show of solidarity with protests and to demand action be taken following the shooting of Blake.
The actions were spurred by the Milwaukee Bucks, who refused to take the court for their playoff game in the NBA’s Orlando bubble.
Bucks players in a statement said they were demanding action from their home state’s Legislature and wanted to see the officer involved held accountable.
“Despite the overwhelming pleas for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball,” Bucks players said.
The NBA postponed the rest of its Wednesday night playoff games as there is growing sentiment among some players about not wanting to continue playing in the bubble.
Six Major League Baseball teams, including the Milwaukee Brewers, and several players followed suit and sat out their games. In the WNBA, all three games were called off, and the MLS canceled all but one game Wednesday.
One day after the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers players elected not to play their games, the Green Bay Packers canceled Thursday practice. The Detroit Lions canceled practice two days ago as players sought to protest social injustice after Blake’s shooting.
Department of Justice opens civil rights investigation into Jacob Blake case
The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday confirmed it has opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting of Blake.
The probe will run parallel to the state DOJ’s criminal investigation. The two authorities will share information as the law allows.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice on Wednesday also offered its the first official accounting of what happened in the Sunday shooting.
Authorities identified officer Rusten Sheskey as the sole shooter and said Blake was also tased. Blake is paralyzed from the waist down following the shooting, his family said.
Sheskey fired his weapon seven times into Blake’s back as Blake leaned into his car. No other officer at the scene fired a weapon. The account said Blake told officers he had a knife in his possession, although it is unclear whether Sheskey knew of the knife when he pulled the trigger of his gun. The knife was later found on the driver-side floorboard of the car.
Shooter in Tuesday night violence charged
Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old suspected of fatally shooting two people and wounding a third during Tuesday’s protests in Kenosha, was arrested on a homicide charge Wednesday.
Authorities did not release the victims’ names but said the two killed were a 26-year-old man from Kenosha County and a 36-year-old Kenosha man. Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, was shot in the arm and is expected to survive.
Based on Wisconsin law, Rittenhouse would be charged as an adult.
Rittenhouse thought of himself as a militia member trying to protect life and property, according to videos, interviews and social media posts. Multiple threads on Facebook and Reddit urged militias and other armed people to head to the protests, researchers at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab said in a blog post Wednesday.
The Atlantic Council researchers said some of the online discussions before the attack encouraged acts of violence while the conspiracy website InfoWars amplified the call to arms, potentially encouraging more armed people to head to Kenosha.
Video taken in the hours before the shooting shows Rittenhouse hanging out with older armed men, who tell a reporter they’re protecting a car lot. Rittenhouse then introduces himself as Kyle.
Although police have provided few details about what occurred during Tuesday’s shooting, there are dozens of videos posted to social media that appear to portray the incident. Those videos show a male opening fire in the middle of the street with a semi-automatic rifle and a person being shot in a car lot.
In one video, police appear to allow the young man responsible for the shootings – still carrying a gun – to walk past them, while people in the crowd yell for him to be arrested.
Contributing: Bart Jansen, Grace Hauck, Chris Bumbaca, N’dea Yancey-Bragg, Jordan Culver, Steve Gardner, Jim Reineking, Joel Shannon, Heather Tucker and Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY; Gina Barton, Patrick Marley, Devi Shastri, Cary Spivak, Bruce Vielmetti and Sarah Volpenhein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; The Associated Press
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