Protests in Kenosha, Wis., remained peaceful although many were distraught about the decision on Tuesday (Jan. 5) by prosecutors who announced that there would be no charges filed against any of the officers involved in the shooting of Jacob Blake.
"It was peaceful. That was all that matters," Kejuan Goldsmith of Racine told Kenosha News.
Demonstrations ended by about 9:30 p.m., and there were no reports of violence. A group of about 30 cars drove through neighborhoods in the town, which is situated about 45 minutes south of Milwaukee. Some protesters shouted “Wake up, Kenosha.” Later about 60 people gathered around the Kenosha County Administration Building, but regardless there were no incidents reported.
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Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley announced that no charges would be filed in the Aug. 23 shooting, which paralyzed Blake, 29, including any against officer Rusten Shesky, who shot Blake seven times hitting him in the back and side. Gravely cited state statutes on police shootings and said a case to charge the officer did not emerge from investigations.
"It’s a narrow task today, it’s a legal and professional task," he said. "If you don’t believe you can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, you have an ethical obligation not to issue charges."
Blake’s family was angered by the decision, but revealed that Graveley had informed Blake of the arrangement prior to the announcement.
"We're unhappy with what was said today. We expected it; it did not sideswipe us or jump us from the backside. We understood what was gonna come when they called in the National Guard," Blake's father Jacob Blake Sr. said in Chicago after Graveley’s announcement according to local station WLS.
The peaceful demonstrations, which took place on a near-freezing temperature night in Kenosha, were a complete turnaround from those which happened last summer in August after Blake’s shooting. Several days of unrest ensued and resulted in the fatal shooting of two people, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. Another individual, Gaige Grosskreutz, 22, was also injured. Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, was arrested at his home in Antioch, Ill., and charged with five felonies including first degree murder. On Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers had mobilized 550 members of the National Guard in anticipation of unrest after the decision. But with no major incidents, Guard troopers and police did little more than stand at their posts.
"Does this look like a violent assembly to you? Because you all look pretty stupid right now," one woman said to troops, according to Kenosha News. "That right there let us know A. What the decision was going to be; B. that we were going to be disappointed; and C. they basically assumed that an entire race of people were going to be so upset that they were going to cause unrest and destruction. What they fail to realize is that unrest isn't caused until you try and breach our rights to gather and protest."
Meanwhile, Blake’s legal team has blasted Graveley’s decision, saying it failed Blake, his family and the community.
“Officer Sheskey’s actions sparked outrage and advocacy throughout the country, but the District Attorney’s decision not to charge the officer who shot Jacob in the back multiple times, leaving him paralyzed, further destroys trust in our justice system," said a statement from civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Blake's co-counsels Patrick A. Salvi II and B’Ivory LaMarr. "This sends the wrong message to police officers throughout the country. It says it is OK for police to abuse their power and recklessly shoot their weapon, destroying the life of someone who was trying to protect his children."
Blake continues to recover at a Chicago rehabilitation facility. Crump has pledged to move forward with a civil lawsuit.
RELATED: Ben Crump Releases Statement On Kenosha D.A. Decision Not To Charge Officer In Jacob Blake Shooting
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