US city on edge ahead of decision on officer who shot black man
Washington (AFP) –
Officials called in the National Guard Tuesday as Kenosha, Wisconsin girded for possible violence ahead of announcing whether a white police officer will be charged over the shooting of African American Jacob Blake.
The shooting of the 29-year-old on August 23 poured fuel onto nationwide anger over police shootings of Black Americans, sparking several days of violent protests.
Bystander video showed a police officer, Rusten Sheskey, firing several shots into Blake's back as he tried to get into his car while his three children sat inside.
Blake survived but was left paralyzed, without the use of his legs.
Local prosecutor Michael Gravely is expected to announce the decision on whether to charge the officer, although no time or place has been made public.
On Monday the city council moved to institute emergency powers do deal with any violence and the county sheriff also instituted a state of emergency to be able to maximize resources for public security.
As Kenosha businesses boarded up shopfronts in preparation for possible violence, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers ordered the state's National Guard to mobilize 500 guardsmen to help Kenosha law enforcement if needed.
The police officers involved in the Blake shooting were suspended from work, but none were arrested or charged at the time.
The shooting sparked three nights of violent protests which culminated on the night of August 25 when, drawn to the city by calls from right-wing militia, a 17 year old carrying an assault rifle, Kyle Rittenhouse, shot dead two protestors and wounded a third.
His arrest brought calm to the city of 100,000, and he was charged with murder. According to local reports, Rittenhouse was expected to plead not guilty in a court appearance Tuesday.
Blake's case fed into the election battle between Democrat Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, with Biden offering support for Blake's family and decrying systemic racism in law enforcement, while Trump expressed support for the police and law and order, and for Rittenhouse.
© 2021 AFP