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In Kenosha, Blake Family Continues To Wait For Decision On Whether To Charge Officer

Chuck Quirmbach
After Saturday's rally, a march was held. Marchers included Justin Blake (carrying flag) and Tanya McLean (second from right).

It's been nearly four months since Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey severely wounded Jacob Blake, Jr., a Black resident, while trying to take Blake into custody.

Blake's family and their supporters are still urging Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley to issue criminal charges against the officer, and for the police department to fire Sheskey.

Saturday afternoon in downtown Kenosha, Lutheran Bishop Paul Erickson led off a rally for Blake, with a prayer for justice. "Justice for Jacob Blake, and for all of your children who suffer unjustly at the hands of those who make bad decisions,” he said.

Surrounding Erickson were about 25 people who braved snow, wind and sleet to gather across from the Kenosha County Courthouse. Gravely told the Kenosha News last week that he and former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray hired as an independent expert and are reviewing a massive amount of evidence related to the August shooting.

Gravely said they're making progress. But Jacob Blake's uncle, Justin Blake, said the delay in announcing a decision is very frustrating.

"You can be meticulous to a fault, you know?  And I think we're at the border of being meticulous to a fault,” he said.

Supporters of the Blake family have also been calling for widespread changes in Kenosha to improve opportunities for more people and bring a greater sense of racial equity. Tanya McLean heads the group Leaders of Kenosha and said she expects progress to take a while.

"As a Black person, we know how slow the wheels turn and how our wins are very small and far in between. But, we're grateful for those and we're going to continue to seek those with patience and grace,” she said.

Kenosha recently announced an $18 million retail and residential project for the Uptown neighborhood where heavy damage occurred during  protests following the Blake shooting. McLean said she hopes Black and brown communities are included in the economic revival.

Credit Chuck Quirmbach
Cleanup work continues in Kenosha's Uptown neighborhood, where several buildings were damaged during the protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Elsewhere in Uptown and in downtown where protests also occurred, some of the damage has been cleaned up and some businesses have taken boards off their windows.

But boards are still up on some establishments as merchants wait to see what happens in the Blake and Sheskey case, and in the expected homicide trial early next year for Kyle Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse is the Illinois teen accused of killing two Kenosha protestors and wounding a third two nights after Jacob Blake was shot.

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