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Friday, September 25, 2020

Curfew ends in Wisconsin city ahead of visit from Joe Biden

The curfew was enacted after Blake, a Black man, was shot by a police officer on August 23. Jacob Blake Sr. on Wednesday told WGN America's "NewsNation that his son is out of a hospital intensive care unit.

By: AP | Kenosha | September 3, 2020 7:08:21 am
Kenosha shooting, Kenosha protests, Kenosha black man shooting, Kenosha curfew, Joe Biden Kenosha visit, Biden Kenosha visit, World news, Indian ExpressIn this August 25, 2020 file photo, authorities disperse people from a park in Kenosha, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

A curfew that was in place in Kenosha for more than a week after the police shooting of Jacob Blake was lifted on Wednesday, another sign of increasing calm in the southeastern Wisconsin city that has been the epicentre of the latest eruption over racial injustice.

The move came a day after the curfew was targeted as unconstitutional in a federal lawsuit and the day before former Vice President Joe Biden planned to visit, marking his first campaign stop in Wisconsin in nearly two years.

The curfew was enacted after Blake, a Black man, was shot by a police officer on August 23. Jacob Blake Sr. on Wednesday told WGN America’s “NewsNation that his son is out of a hospital intensive care unit.

Read | Officials: Deputies fatally shoot Black man who dropped gun in Los Angeles

The shooting of Blake, captured on cellphone video, sparked protests that resulted in buildings being burned and vandalised and in the shootings of three demonstrators, two of whom died.

Seventeen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse has been charged in the August 25 slayings; his attorney says it was self defense.

Biden said on Wednesday that the officer who shot Blake should be charged, a sharp contrast to Trump’s support-the-police message when he visited Kenosha a day earlier.

Explained | Why tensions are on the rise in Portland in the US

The president met with law enforcement, toured some of the damage and called the violence domestic terrorism, and made almost no mention of Blake.

Biden also plans to meet with members of Blake’s family, something Trump did not do, and hold a community meeting.

Protests have been peaceful for more than a week, other than a few minor skirmishes during Trump’s visit.

Read | Trump to visit Kenosha next week, potentially stoking tensions

The last several nights have been relatively peaceful in the community, and in the judgment of law enforcement, it is appropriate to remove the curfew, Mayor John Antaramian said.

However, he held out the possibility that the curfew may return, saying criminal activity will not be tolerated.

The about-face came after four people who were arrested during the protests filed a federal lawsuit alleging that local law enforcement arrested only those protesting against police brutality, not pro-police protesters and militia who were armed with rifles.

In Kenosha, there are two sets of laws one that applies to those who protest police brutality and racism, and another for those who support the police, the lawsuit said.

Read | Were they a threat? Police shootings in US reignite legal debate

Sam Hall, attorney for Kenosha County, said the county will seek immediate dismissal.

He said the sheriff’s department has worked tirelessly to bring order back to the community and has been careful to protect the rights of all citizens throughout that process.

North Carolina civil rights lawyer Kimberly Motely, who is representing those arrested, said she thought the lawsuit definitely played a role in the decision to lift the curfew.

There are no immediate plans to drop the suit, which also seeks damages for those arrested, Motley said. She also represents Gaige Grosskreutz, who prosecutors say was shot in the arm by Rittenhouse.

Read | Black National Convention puts spotlight on police brutality

Rittenhouse’s attorney John Pierce tweeted a video of him Tuesday speaking by phone with Rittenhouse from jail in Illinois, where he was arrested.

I just want to thank every single one of you from the bottom of my heart for the underlining support, it’s just amazing, Rittenhouse said from the phone held up by Pierce.

I want to thank all of you for the mail I’ve been receiving. It’s been really helpful. I just want to let you all know that I’m going to be out of here soon and stay strong. And I hope to see you guys soon.

On Monday, Trump defended Rittenhouse.

Read | Jacob Blake Shooting: Five MLS games called off as players protest racial injustice

BuzzFeed News, citing since deleted social media, reported that Rittenhouse sat in the front row at a Trump rally in Des Moines in January and a TikTok bio page of his included the slogan Trump 2020.

During his visit to Kenosha, Trump highlighted a camera shop that was destroyed during protests. But the shop’s owner, Tom Gram, said the president used his store for political gain by appearing with a former owner of the business.

Gram said he bought Rode’s Camera Shop from the Rode family eight years ago, though John Rode still owns the property. Gram said he rejected an offer to join the president on his tour, and that Trump’s references to Rode as the owner of the business were deceptive.

I think everything he (Trump) does turns into a circus and I just didn’t want to be involved in it, Gram told Milwaukee station WTMJ-TV. The White House noted Wednesday that Rode and his family founded and built Rode’s Camera Shop before World War II and still own the building that houses the shop.

Read | Wisconsin Governor declares state of emergency after Jacob Blake protests

Trump didn’t visit the site of the shop, but Rode met with him a few blocks away and appeared at a roundtable later in the day. I just appreciate President Trump coming today, everybody here does, Rode said.

We’re so thankful we got the federal troops here. Once they got here things did calm down quite a bit. A day earlier we would have saved your store,” Trump responded. “One day earlier.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers deployed the National Guard to Kenosha to quell demonstrations. Trump has sought to take credit, although Evers activated them a day before Trump demanded they be used.

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