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Former Kenosha Journalist Discusses Systemic Issues In The City

Scott Olson
Getty Images
Since Jacob Blake was shot in the back by a Kenosha police officer, people have been protesting and the city has been in the national spotlight.

Kenosha has been in the national spotlight for less than ideal reasons. After Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer, it became the nation's next rallying location in a summer of protests for racial justice. 

Denise Lockwood is the owner of the Racine County Eye, but she used to be a crime reporter in Kenosha. She knew the area where the shooting happened right away because she'd been to it many times before. She said it happened in Wilson Heights where a lot of affordable housing is and where she found herself several times a week as a crime reporter. Lockwood believes the protests are about more than what happened to Blake. 

"There's actually, in my opinion, there's two storylines going on," she says. "There's trying to understand what happened to Jacob Blake. And then there's also this undercurrent of we're really tired of how people who are Black are treated." 

She wrote an opinion piece for CNN talking about her experience covering crime and violence in Kenosha. In the article, Lockwood writes about how the criminal justice system has contributed to systemic problems in the area. She says there seems to be a movement toward improving social issues related to mental health.

“But the problem is the infrastructure hasn’t responded. People may be responding to it, but the infrastructure and the policies around it have been very stagnant," she explains.

Lockwood says there are systemic issues in Kenosha that largely stem from a lack of mental health care and underfunding of prison rehabilitation programs. She says there are programs available to help rehabilitate people and get them back to work, but there’s always a waiting list because the programming isn’t being funded at the level it should be. Lockwood has noticed the conversation shifting more to talk about how to help formerly incarcerated people rehabilitate and get back to work.

“I think the table has definitely been set, and I think there’s some really creative things going on, especially in manufacturing and relationships between the department of corrections. So, I see a lot of good stuff happening, but it’s just not enough and people are suffering because of it," she says.