Wisconsin city braces for protest as charging decision looms

January 5, 2021 - 11:38

A southeastern Wisconsin city braced for another round of protests as prosecutors prepared to announce whether they'll charge a white police officer who shot a Black man in the back, leaving him paralyzed.

Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake seven times on Aug. 23 as Blake was about to get into an SUV during a domestic dispute. The police union has maintained Blake resisted arrest and was armed with a knife, although state investigators have said only that a knife was found on the floor of the vehicle. Blake's three children were in the back seat of the SUV when he was shot.

The shooting sparked protests that went on for several nights. Some of them turned violent, with some protesters burning businesses and members of self-styled militias answering a call on social media to travel to the city. Prosecutors have charged Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch, Illinois, with shooting three people, killing two of them, with an assault-style weapon during one of the demonstrations. Rittenhouse, who is white, was 17 at the time of the shootings. Conservatives have rallied to Rittenhouse's legal defense.

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley is expected any day to announce whether Sheskey will face criminal charges. Fearing a repeat of the August protests, city officials were expected to adopt an emergency resolution Monday night and take other steps, including setting up a limited area for protests, imposing a curfew and closing roads. Concrete barricades and oversized metal fencing surrounded the Kenosha County Courthouse Monday night.

Meanwhile, Gov. Tony Evers activated 500 National Guard troops to help Kenosha authorities when the decision is announced.

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