Late Saturday afternoon, as the University began welcoming back students for the first time in nearly five months, a group of hundreds assembled on the Campus Library Mall to demand Justice for Jacob Blake.
Among other issues, the group was pushing for the immediate termination and arrest of Rusten Sheskey, the Kenosha Police officer who shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times at close range eight days ago. Naomi Hollard, one of the organizers behind Saturday’s march says Blake’s shooting has brought the issue of police brutality closer to home.
“It’s easy to be like this happened in Baltimore, this happened in Minneapolis. But, to see it be so close to home, in your home state…It makes you sad, but I wasn’t surprised,” she says.
The investigation into the shooting of Jacob Blake has been passed off from the Kenosha Police Department to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The DOJ’s Department of Criminal Investigation will be leading a coordinated investigation alongside the FBI, Wisconsin State Patrol and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office.
The Department of Criminal Investigation will present a report of the shooting to the Kenosha District Attorney within the next three weeks. The Kenosha DA, Michael Gravely, will then determine whether or not to press charges against Sheskey.
If Gravely decides against pressing charges, the case report will be made public. But, Hollard says the investigation is flawed from the outset.
The Department of Criminal Investigation’s Administrator, Brian O’Keefe, co-chairs the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Civilian Law Enforcement/Military Cooperation Committee, a group that fosters cooperation between municipal police forces and military law enforcement.
He also spent nearly 27 years as a member of the Milwaukee Police Department, eventually rising up to the rank of Deputy Chief of Police.
“And he is the man who is leading the independent investigation of the brutal shooting of Jacob Blake,” Hollard says. “If you’re having problems in a relationship and you get the guy’s best friend to mediate the whole thing, it’s not going to be fair!”
After the group had gathered at Library Mall and organizers had spoken, they began a march down State Street to the capitol. As they went, the group urged those eating at restaurants and bars to join in the protest.
Protesters proceeded to round the Capitol and made their way down Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, before coming to a final halt outside the Risser Justice Center, which houses the Department of Justice.
There, they placed hundreds of shoes in front of the Justice Center. The organizers say the shoes symbolize police officers who walk free, while many victims of police brutality cannot.