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Kenosha To Hold Community Listening Sessions Following Blake Shooting, Unrest

Mayor Plans To Include Police Body Cameras In 2021 Budget

Volunteers paint murals on boarded-up businesses in Kenosha
Volunteers paint murals on boarded-up businesses in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. Russell Contreras/AP Photo

Three weeks after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha sparked days of protests and violence in the city, leaders there say the best way to move forward is by asking the community what it needs.

Beginning Sept. 20, the city will host four, two-hour listening sessions that will be open to the public, but with limited capacity because of coronavirus restrictions.

Feedback will be used for what city leaders are calling a “Kenosha Commit to Action Roadmap” that was developed in partnership with local faith leaders and the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said that even before a white police officer shot Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back on Aug. 23, leaders were working on reforming systemic racism, but he admits enough wasn’t being done.

“We need to accept the fact we have issues, and we need to deal with them,” Antaramian said. “And to do that, there’s only one way for success to occur, and that is community involvement.”

Rev. Roy Peeples, of Turning Point Life Church, said it’s important for community members and not just elected officials to be involved in policy and decision-making.

“I think it should be the people’s agenda, so we can heal and move Kenosha forward,” Peeples said. “It would ensure the doors are open for all residents to become stakeholders in our city.”

Antaramian said he is also working with the Common Council to include funding for body cameras for the Kenosha Police Department in the 2021 budget. He’s also evaluating funding options for additional police training next year.

The Police Department and county officials have also been invited to be involved in the listening sessions.

Specific details regarding the listening sessions, including how to register, can be found on the city’s website.

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