Elected officials issue statements on shooting by Kenosha Police officer

Elected officials whose districts include Western Kenosha County have issued statements Monday in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer Sunday evening.

The shooting is under investigation by the state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.

The shooting spurred protests and violence on the streets of Kenosha, especially downtown. A countywide curfew was declared Sunday night through 7 a.m., Monday and another was declared just for eastern Kenosha County starting at 8 p.m., Monday through 7 a.m., Tuesday.

On Monday elected officials with connections to Western Kenosha County were issuing statements about the situation.

From Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser:

The events that unfolded in our community over the last 24 hours are nothing short of tragic. My heart goes out to Jacob Blake and his family, and to everyone touched in some way by this horrific episode. We do not yet know many of the details of this officer-involved shooting, but we do know that it is the latest of a devastating series of events in our nation that have touched nerves and stoked fears about our relations with law enforcement, and with one another. Kenosha County recently declared racism to be a public health crisis, and our leaders — myself included — have resolved to address this issue in a meaningful way. Sunday’s tragedy and the ensuing reaction reinforce the need for change in our community. In the coming days, I’m hoping for a meeting of stakeholders of our whole community, that we have an attentive ear, talk about the next steps forward and set the path. In the meantime, I pray for Mr. Blake’s recovery, and for the safety of everyone in our county, our state and our nation.”

From state Rep. Samantha Kerkman, whose district includes most of Western Kenosha County and also parts of Somers and Pleasant Prairie:

“Along with many in our Kenosha County community, I have seen the brief but disturbing video of yesterday’s officer-involved shooting in Kenosha.  I would like to offer my thoughts and prayers to Jacob Blake and his family.  I am hopeful that he recovers quickly. During this time of heightened tension, I respectfully call on the Kenosha County community to be peaceful.  What we saw in Kenosha last night – burned buildings and vehicles – is unacceptable and cannot continue.  I am thankful that Governor Evers has activated the Wisconsin National Guard to Kenosha County in order to help keep our community safe.  As a community, we need to be careful to not pass judgment regarding a case where not all of the facts are known.  The investigation of this incident has already been turned over to the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) pursuant to state law.  It is imperative that we allow the DOJ adequate time to complete a comprehensive investigation.  If the DOJ finds that the actions taken last night were not warranted, there will be appropriate consequences for those who were involved. I look forward to the work of the Speaker’s task force that will focus on racial disparities, educational opportunities, public safety, and police policies and standards.  I am pleased that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced today that he is creating this important task force.” 

From state Sen. Van Wanggaard, whose district includes most of Western Kenosha County:

The video of a Kenosha Police Officer shooting Jacob Blake appears shocking. Although the video that is publicly available at this time provides a picture of the incident, it is also important to remember that there is a great deal that cannot be seen, and many witnesses who saw the events leading up to and during the event from different perspectives. That is why there should be, and will be, a thorough, independent investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice into the shooting of Mr. Blake. If the independent investigation shows the shooting to be unjustified, people will be held accountable. Exhale. Everyone should take a deep breath. There is an investigatory process that must be followed, so no evidence is overlooked. We must let law and reason, not emotion, guide the next steps. I know passions and tensions are high right now between certain communities and law enforcement. It’s important to realize that tension goes both ways. Although each situation is unique, it is easy to lump every interaction together when it is the perceived reality you live in. But nothing justifies the violence and destruction we saw last night. By improving the accountability of police, by increasing community involvement to promote better understandings between the community and police, and by being as transparent as possible, we can permanently improve the situation and change the narrative to the better. The healing won’t occur overnight, but it can and must be improved by working together. I hesitate to do this, because the situation in Kenosha stands on its own, but I am extremely shocked by the content of Governor Evers’ statement last night. The best leaders attempt to diffuse situations, not escalate them. Evers’ statement was irresponsible and inflammatory. He jumped to conclusions without first having all the facts. At a time when stereotyping situations is especially risky, Evers stereotyped every police interaction with people of color – harming both. Last night, I asked the Governor to provide all necessary assistance to both the city and county of Kenosha, including the National Guard. I was told he was providing such assistance. After the events of yesterday afternoon and Evers’ statement last night, Kenosha will need all the help it can get – especially your prayers.”

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