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KENOSHA – Three protesters, including the uncle of police shooting victim Jacob Blake, were arrested about 10 p.m. Sunday for blocking access to the Kenosha County Public Safety Building’s public entrance.
Arrested by the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department were: Justin S. Blake (Jacob Blake’s uncle), Jonathan W. Barker, and Joseph M. Cardinali. All were charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Blake was also charged with obstructing an officer.
As of noon on Monday, all three protesters had posted bonds and were released from the Kenosha County Jail.
A Sunday afternoon rally attracted about 25 to 30 protesters, including members of the Blake family and local Kenosha activists. The group called for the firing of Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey for shooting Jacob Blake in the back seven times during an arrest last August. The shooting left Blake partially paralyzed. The incident also sparked several days of unrest that included violence and heavy property damage around Downtown Kenosha.
Sheskey was cleared of criminal wrongdoing following a lengthy investigation by state and local authorities. He recently returned to work with the Kenosha Police Department.
Protest at Kenosha Public Safety Building
A protest march, described by the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department as “calm and orderly,” started about at 4 p.m. The march ended at the Public Safety Building, 1000 55th St., which includes the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, City of Kenosha Police Department, and Kenosha Joint Services.
According to a Sheriff’s Department news release, the Kenosha protest “remained peaceful and occupied a parking lot of the Public Safety Building.” At about 5 p.m. Sunday, approximately 25 remaining protesters began to stage at the front public entrance of the Public Safety Building. The crowd then reduced to about ten people over the next several hours.
“The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department attempted to compromise with the group of protesters, asking them to stop blocking the entrance and allow the public that wanted to conduct business access to the Public Safety Building. These alternatives included remaining at the Public Safety Building to the side of the entrance doors, on the sidewalk near the doors, or any area that did not obstruct the public’s access to the building,” the Sheriff’s Department reported. “During this time, several citizens came to the Public Safety Building and had to be escorted through a secure employee entrance or became dissuaded due to the entrance being blocked.”
At about 10 p.m., four protesters remained seated in front of the Safety Building main doors. Three were off to the side. When sheriff’s deputies arrived, one of the four stood up and removed herself. The remaining three (Justin Blake, Barker, and Cardinali) were arrested without incident and escorted to a transport van. Deputies then booked them into the Kenosha County Jail.
Kenosha Sheriff’s Statement
“Sheriff David Beth and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department recognizes and respect the rights of the citizens of Kenosha County to demonstrate peacefully their right to free speech and assembly. These targeted arrests of the three protesters that were blocking the door to the Public Safety Building should not ignore that the majority of people today had been out for hours during an incredibly peaceful protest. Sheriff Beth reminds everyone, citizens have the right to peacefully protest on public property but cannot block access to a government building for other members of the public, preventing the departments within the Public Safety Building from carrying out their functions for those community members not involved.”
Kenosha Police Chief’s Statement
Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis issued the following statement on Monday, about the protest:
“As Kenosha’s Chief of Police, I am extremely disappointed that some of the people making demands are people who have had regular contact with me or a member of my executive staff. We are always open to constructive communication; however, we cannot effectively communicate with those that seek a spotlight to create and further facilitate a false narrative. Community growth, building relationships – these ideas need to be our focus, not creating barriers.”
Further, “Kenosha Police will not respond to demands, nor will we entertain the unlawful termination of a police officer. We have met with many people in our community, participated in listening sessions, and we are active in Mayor Antaramian’s plan for equity and inclusion. We routinely evaluate and enhance our policies and seek out additional training for our staff. Our body-worn camera program is progressing and is anticipated to be implemented later this year. These steps are progress, and we will continue working to improve our relationships with all of Kenosha.”