Sept. 2: Biden Says Kenosha Officer Who Shot Jacob Blake Should Face Charges; Kenosha Lifts Curfew

Sep 2, 2020

Anger over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, on Aug. 23 continues to spill into the streets of Kenosha, Wis. On Aug. 25, an Illinois teenager allegedly shot and killed two protesters and severely injured another. The city has become the nation's latest flashpoint during a summer of unrest and calls for racial justice.

>>Find all of WUWM's Kenosha protest coverage here

WUWM is providing updates as events unfold and information on the incident is released.

2:02 p.m.: Biden Says Kenosha Officer Should Face Charges

Joe Biden says the police officer in Kenosha who shot Jacob Blake in the back on Aug. 23, leaving the 29-year-old Black man paralyzed, “needs to be charged.”

The comment by the Democratic presidential nominee came after he was asked about remarks by his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, that the officer should face charges.

Biden also says officers should be charged in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

Biden plans a visit Thursday to Kenosha, where there have been multiple nights of unrest following Blake’s shooting. Biden says there have been “overwhelming requests” that he come to the city.

- Associated Press

1:32 p.m.: Kenosha Lifts Curfew

Kenosha County lifted its emergency curfew on Wednesday, which was put in place after unrest over the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake. Two protesters in Kenosha were shot and another injured during unrest on Aug. 25. A city official says there has been about $2 million in damage to city-owned property since protests began.

But Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian says the curfew is no longer needed.

"The last several nights have been relatively peaceful in the community, and in the judgment of law enforcement, it is appropriate to remove the curfew," he said in a statement. "However, criminal activity will not be tolerated and arrests will be made if needed. I am hopeful there will be no need to reinstate the curfew in the near future.”

- Lauren Sigfusson

11:52 a.m.: 4 Arrested During Kenosha Protests File Lawsuit

On Tuesday, four people arrested during demonstrations in Kenosha filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging that local law enforcement arrested only those protesting against police brutality, not “pro-police protesters and militia” who were armed with rifles.

The lawsuit claims that enforcement of a curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. violates constitutional free speech and equal protection rights.

“In Kenosha, there are two sets of laws — one that applies to those who protest police brutality and racism, and another for those who support the police,” the lawsuit said.

Sam Hall, attorney for Kenosha County, called the lawsuit “entirely without merit” and said the county will seek immediate dismissal.

“The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department has worked tirelessly to bring order back to the community and has been careful to protect the rights of all citizens throughout that process,” Hall said in a statement.

An attorney for the city did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

The lawsuit includes widely circulated cellphone video from Aug. 25 showing law enforcement officers in armored vehicles handing bottles of water to civilians with rifles and thanking them. One of the people in that video is Rittenhouse.

In the video, police appear to be clearing out protesters while allowing the gun-carrying civilians who said they were there to protect the property to remain.

Those bringing the lawsuit are represented by North Carolina civil rights lawyer Kimberly Motely, who also represents Gaige Grosskreutz, the man prosecutors say was shot in the arm by Rittenhouse.

- Associated Press

11:51 a.m. Rittenhouse Thanks People For Support In Call With Attorney From Jail

Kye Rittenhouse’s attorney John Pierce tweeted a video of him on Tuesday speaking by phone with Rittenhouse from jail in Illinois, where he was arrested. The 17-year-old is accused of fatally shooting two demonstrators in Kenosha on Aug. 25 and wounding a third.

“I just want to thank every single one of you from the bottom of my heart for the underlining support, it’s just amazing,” Rittenhouse said from the phone held up by Pierce. “I want to thank all of you for the mail I’ve been receiving. It’s been really helpful. I just want to let you all know that I’m going to be out of here soon and stay strong. And I hope to see you guys soon.”

Pierce reiterated his position that Rittenhouse was acting in self defense.

Pierce tweeted that "Kyle Rittenhouse will go down in American history alongside that brave unknown patriot at Lexington Green who fired 'The Shot Heard Round The World' on April 19, 1775. A Second American Revolution against Tyranny has begun."

- Associated Press, Lauren Sigfusson

11:48 a.m. Owner Of Burned Business Accuses Trump Of Misleading Public

The owner of a camera shop that was destroyed during unrest in Kenosha and highlighted during President Donald Trump’s visit says the president used his store for political gain by appearing with a former owner of the business while touring the epicenter of the latest eruption over racial injustice.

Tom Gram said he bought Rode's Camera Shop from the Rode family eight years ago, though John Rode still owns the property. Gram's four decades of work at the store came to an end Aug. 24, when the building was destroyed by fire during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Gram said he got a call Monday from the White House asking if he would join the president on a tour that would showcase the destruction to the business, but Gram rejected the offer. And he said Trump’s references to Rode as the owner of the business were deceptive.

“I think everything he [Trump] does turns into a circus and I just didn’t want to be involved in it,” Gram told Milwaukee station WTMJ-TV.

The White House, however, noted Wednesday that Rode and his family founded and built Rode’s Camera Shop before World War II and still own the building that houses the shop. Trump didn’t visit the site of the shop during Tuesday's trip to Kenosha, but Rode met with him a few blocks away and participated in a roundtable with the president.

- Associated Press

10:34 a.m.: Biden To Visit Kenosha On Thursday

Joe Biden is traveling to Kenosha, Wis., on Thursday, as the key swing state becomes the focal point for a political debate over violence at protests there and elsewhere in the nation.

Biden plans to travel to the state with his wife Jill, according to a person familiar with his plans granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

His visit comes two days after President Donald Trump toured Kenosha, the site of recent protests following the shooting of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, left paralyzed after being shot in the back seven times by an officer. Trump used the opportunity to drive home his campaign message of “law and order” by expressing support for law enforcement and blaming “domestic terror” for the looting and arson that’s taken place in the city during the protests.

The president and his allies are hoping to use the violence at recent protests against Biden, and have charged that if the Democrat were elected such incidents would become the norm.

Biden has repeatedly denounced the protest violence but has expressed sympathy for protesters’ concerns over systemic racism and a commitment to enact police reforms if elected.

Biden plans to meet with Blake's family while in Kenosha.

It will be Biden's first visit to Wisconsin in nearly two years. It comes after Biden decided against accepting the party’s nomination in Milwaukee, where the Democratic National Convention was to have been held. Instead, the convention was mostly virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic.

- Associated Press