Organizations representing Wisconsin sheriffs and police chiefs want the state’s Democratic governor and lieutenant governor stop talking about the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, and the subsequent murders of two men in the city.
Evers released an initial statement Sunday night, hours after the 29-year-old Blake, a Black man, was shot multiple times in the back by a Kenosha police officer.
“While we do not have all the details yet, what we know for certain is he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or in our country,” Evers’ statement read in part.
Barnes shared his thoughts Thursday, on the presence of many self-described militia members in Kenosha this week — including the teen charged in the murders which took place during overnight protests and unrest Tuesday.
“Someone that wasn’t looking to keep peace, an outside agitator, someone who came in from Illinois with a long rifle was able to just walk the streets freely, like that’s something normal that we should come to expect. Lemme tell you it’s not anything normal, we shouldn’t come to expect it, we shouldn’t accept it.”
The accused shooter, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch, Illinois, described himself as part of a local militia whose job was to protect businesses in Kenosha.
“These people weren’t out here as auxiliary officers,” Barnes said. “The police have all the support they need from the National Guard. If in fact that is the case that this sort of person is being celebrated as a vigilante, as a militia man, then that’s ridiculous. And that speaks to a much larger problem.”
Kevin Mathewson, a former Kenosha alder who created a Facebook page called “Kenosha Guard,” which encouraged armed people to come to the city, said he didn’t know Rittenhouse, according to a report from the liberal Wisconsin Examiner website. The “Kenosha Guard” page his since been taken down.
Also Thursday, presidents of four law enforcement organizations in Wisconsin sent a letter to Governor Evers asking members of his administration “discontinue and refrain from making statements and issuing press releases specific to the City of Kenosha Police involved shooting until the facts of the investigation are known.”
Heads of the Wisconsin Badger State Sheriff’s Association, the Wisconsin Sheriff’s and Deputy Sheriff’s Association, the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, and the Wisconsin Police Executive Group signed the letter this week, asking the state’s leaders to cool it with the comments, calling them “premature, judgmental and inflammatory.”