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Charging decision in Jacob Blake shooting expected in first two weeks of January

@AttorneyCrump Twitter account/A

A decision on whether to charge the Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer who shot Jacob Blake is expected to come in the next two weeks, and city officials are preparing for the possibility of unrest.

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Gravely will deliver his charging decision within the first two weeks of January, according to a Kenosha Common Council agenda document for Monday’s meeting.

The document also lays out a proposal for an emergency declaration ahead of “possible civil unrest” that authorities believe could last “for at least 8 days.”

Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times in the back by a White Kenosha police officer responding to a call about a domestic incident on August 23, 2020. He survived the shooting but was left paralyzed from the waist down. The officer, Rusten Sheskey, had spent seven years on the Kenosha force at the time of the shooting.

The incident, captured on disturbing video, led to mass protests and looting in Kenosha, leaving burnt and boarded-up buildings across a swath of downtown. At one such demonstration, a 17-year-old who claimed to be defending a business shot three other people during a confrontation, killing two.

The shooting also spurred protests nationally, and athletes in the NBA, MLS and MLB refused to play in a show of solidarity and outrage.

City and police prepare for demonstrations

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian and Police Chief Daniel Miskinis announced a precautionary safety plan for the public ahead of the impending charging decision.

The officials said they are working with partners “to protect peaceful demonstration and to guard against unlawful activity.” The plans include designating a demonstration space, limiting city bus routes, closing roads, instituting a curfew and installing protective fencing.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers also announced Monday he was mobilizing 500 National Guard troops ahead of an anticipated charging decision. Local authorities requested the assistance of Wisconsin National Guard this week in advance of a decision, Evers said.

“We are continuing to work with our local partners in the Kenosha area to ensure they have the state support they need, just as we have in the past,” Evers said in a statement. “Our members of the National Guard will be on hand to support local first responders, ensure Kenoshans are able to assemble safely, and to protect critical infrastructure as necessary.”

In an op-ed published in the Kenosha News on December 27, Antaramian and Miskinis said they did not know what the decision would be or when it would arrive, but they said they will be prepared.

“What we do know is that regardless of the decision, people will have differing opinions and strong emotions about it. That is everyone’s right. Whether you agree or disagree, we ask that you express your opinions peacefully and lawfully,” the officials write.

“We will not — we can not — tolerate the kind of violence we saw on our streets earlier this year and we will take definitive steps to protect our residents and businesses.”

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