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Public outcry in Kenosha over Jacob Blake shooting turns violent after dark

U.S. cities continue to struggle with policing, physical force and public outrage. In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency due to violence in Kenosha, where police shot Jacob Blake over the weekend. Blake, who is Black, is reported to be paralyzed below the waist. John Yang talks to investigative reporter Gina Barton of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for details and analysis.

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  • Stephanie Sy:

    Now the latest on how two cities are struggling with the role of law enforcement, use of force, and public outrage.

    First, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, which is reeling after new violence over the police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, who is now said to be paralyzed from the waist down.

    Here's John Yang.

  • John Yang:

    Stephanie, overnight, protesters broke windows, burned buildings and battled with police and Wisconsin National Guard troops, whose presence in Kenosha is being doubled.

    Late this afternoon, Jacob Blake's mother said the destruction does not reflect who her son is.

  • Julia Jackson:

    If Jacob knew what was going on as far as that goes, the violence and the destruction, he would be very unpleased.

    So, I'm really asking and encouraging everyone in Wisconsin and abroad to take a moment and examine your hearts.

  • John Yang:

    Gina Barton is an investigative reporter covering criminal justice issues for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. And she joins us.

    Gina, thanks for being with us.

  • Gina Barton:

    Thanks for having me.

  • John Yang:

    Gina, there's a new video out showing a different angle and a little bit before the — what the previous video showed us.

    Does it add any information as to what happened?

  • Gina Barton:

    That new video does add some context. It shows Jacob Blake struggling with the two police officers.

    And then he gets up and starts walking toward his car. And that's where the now famous video that we have seen picks up. So, it does show that there was a struggle before the shooting. It also shows that there were several children in the area.

  • John Yang:

    But, of course, it still doesn't show us what happened even before that struggle began beside the car.

  • Gina Barton:

    We still don't know what prompted that struggle.

    We have heard from Jacob Blake's lawyer that a Taser was used, but I certainly didn't see it on that video. We still can't see any weapons in his hands, and still are no closer to understanding why the police shot him in the back the way they did.

  • John Yang:

    Let's talk about what happened last night.

    As I understand it, the protest began peacefully, but then escalated into this broken windows, buildings set on fire. What — from your understanding, what happened?

  • Gina Barton:

    Usually, what happens in these protests that we have had in Wisconsin and elsewhere is, once the sun goes down, a different group kind of takes the lead in what's going on.

    So, when you have peaceful protests, kids, families during the day, then, at night, you get the little bit more angry and violent protesters.

    So, last night in Kenosha, there were several businesses burned. Protesters were throwing fire crackers at police, who were countering with smoke grenades, flash bangs. Even in the state capital, Madison, people were breaking windows in the capitol building.

    So, our whole state is having some trouble right now.

  • John Yang:

    Tell us, Gina, about the way the state law is in Wisconsin about this investigation.

    We have heard that it will be taken over by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, but who makes the final call about whether to bring charges?

  • Gina Barton:

    This is really interesting, because it was another police shooting in Kenosha in 2004 that led to this law that we have that requires outside investigation of fatal police shootings.

    Now, this shooting was not fatal. Jacob Blake is paralyzed, but he is still alive. So, in those cases, it's optional for the police agency to ask for an outside investigation. They have asked the Department of Justice to investigate.

    The Department of Justice then gives its findings to the district attorney in the county where the incident occurred. And that's who gets to decide whether charges will be filed.

  • John Yang:

    Gina Barton of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, thank you very much.

  • Gina Barton:

    Thanks for having me.

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