September 22, 2020

Protests, Pence RNC speech, NBA boycott, Jacob Blake

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SportsPulse: Following their boycott of Game 5, the Milwaukee Bucks stood united in front of the media and explained why, in the aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting, now is not the time for basketball.

USA TODAY

KENOSHA, Wisconsin – Residents in Kenosha were cleaning up Thursday after four nights of demonstrations after the shooting of Jacob Blake, and attorneys for Blake called for police to protect protesters from “outside vigilante forces.” 

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 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.

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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.

Associated Press

Here’s what we know Thursday:

Michigan National Guard on its way to Kenosha

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer authorized the use of two Michigan National Guard companies at the request of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, she said in a news  release Thursday evening. 

“I am confident that our Guardsmen and women will work hard to keep our neighbors in Wisconsin safe while working to protect their First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly,” Whitmer said. 

She can call the Guard back at any time, the release stated.

Earlier in the day,  Evers announced National Guard troops from Arizona, Michigan and Alabama will add to the Wisconsin National Guard troops already in Kenosha.

Blake attorneys criticize police response to Blake vs. Rittenhouse

Attorneys representing Blake and his family released a statement calling for a timely and full investigation into Blake’s shooting, while also demanding authorities protect protesters from “outside vigilante forces” after two people were killed in Kenosha Tuesday night.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and co-counsels Patrick Salvi and B’Ivory Lamarr also drew a sharp distinction in how authorities’ interaction with Blake, who was shot multiple times in close range after police were called to a domestic incident, and their response to Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old from Illinois who is accused of fatally shooting two people and wounding a third.

“They shot him seven times in the back in front of his children,” the attorneys statement read, referring to Blake. 

But when it came to Rittenhouse, “local law enforcement and National Guardsmen allowed him to walk down the street with his assault weapon,” they said.

Kyle Rittenhouse: 17-year-old charged in Kenosha protest shootings considered himself militia

Video of the scene showed the shooter with a gun running toward an intersection in Kenosha where two squad cars and three armored police vehicles are approaching. On the video, someone can be heard yelling, “Hey, he just shot them! Hey, dude right here just shot them!”

The shooter slowed to a walk and raised his hands as he got close to the police vehicles. He waved at one, but it drove by. A second police vehicle also passed him. The shooter approached the passenger side of a parked squad car and then backed away. The video ended there. 

Rittenhouse was arrested hours later in Antioch, about 20 miles southwest of Kenosha in Illinois, where he lives.

“This is the grossly unfair picture that Black Americans and all Americans who seek racial justice, including the Milwaukee Bucks, see and passionately object to,” Blake’s attorneys said.

More: A visual timeline of violence in Kenosha after police shooting of Jacob Blake

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. The prayer was barely audible amid the noise of cleanup efforts.

Staff from Harborside Academy, a charter 6-12 school, 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.

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.

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.

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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.”

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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)

AP Domestic

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, 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.

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.

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 conducted by the Federal Bureau of 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.

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 Wisconsin Department of Justice 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.

Kenosha County sheriff’s 2018 comments resurface after violence

Controversial 2018 comments by Kenosha Sheriff David Beth have sparked renewed outrage as the city deals with the aftermath of Blake’s death.

Following the arrest of five people for shoplifting close to $5,000 of merchandise from Prime Outlets in Pleasant Prairie and a subsequent high-speed chase that ended in a collision with another vehicle, Beth delivered a strong message about the perpetrators, three Black men and two Black women from Milwaukee. 

“I’m to the point where I think society has to come to a threshold where there are some people that aren’t worth saving,” Beth said. “We need to build warehouses to put these people into it and lock them away for the rest of their lives.”

Beth received backlash for the comments in 2018 and wrote an apology, then met with the Kenosha NAACP president Veronica King, who said it was a good start, but many leaders felt it didn’t go far enough. 

Jesse Jackson played the video of Beth’s comments at an NAACP press conference in Kenosha on Thursday as an example of the “climate we’re dealing with in Wisconsin.” The clip has also circulated on social media sparking backlash online.

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; JR Radcliffe Gina Barton, Patrick Marley, Devi Shastri, Cary Spivak, Bruce Vielmetti and Sarah Volpenhein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; The Associated Press

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The Trump administration sends federal agents in cities like Portland by citing the Department of Homeland Security. Here is breakdown on the law.

USA TODAY

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