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National Guard Activated In Kenosha Ahead Of Decision In Police Shooting Of Jacob Blake

Blake Family Holding March, Vigil On Monday Evening

police in riot gear stand with batons next to protesters
Police emerge from the Kenosha County Public Safety Building to confront protesters after some tried to gain access to a press conference and damaged a door to the building Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha. Angela Major/WPR

Gov. Tony Evers has mobilized approximately 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops to active duty in advance of an anticipated charging decision in the case of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.

Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, said the mobilization represents the culmination of months of planning and partnership with Kenosha.

“We are Citizen Soldiers and Airmen who live and work in the same communities as the citizens we serve, and we are always there for our neighbors when they need us,” Knapp said in a statement.

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Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said he expects to make a decision within the next two weeks.

Mayor John Antaramian and Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said Sunday that they will designate a demonstration space in the city, limit bus routes, close roads and impose curfews, among other measures.

Blake, who is Black, was shot in the back seven times on Aug. 23 after walking away from Rusten Sheskey, a white police officer, and two others who were trying to arrest him. Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down.

“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 Monday. “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.”

The August shooting led to unrest, looting and killings in the city.

On Monday, the Blake family and their supporters called for the arrest of Sheskey. Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., said he wants Sheskey charged with attempted murder. But knowing that the National Guard has been activated, he believes the DA has already made up his mind not to file charges.

“What is the National Guard for? They going to deliver mail? They got ice cream cones? What do you think they’re here for?” Blake Sr. said. “We’re ready. We’re ready.”

The Blake family said if charges are not filed, the family will ask federal authorities to look at the case.

The group planned a march and car caravan Monday night followed by a candlelight vigil.

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