As Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Gravely announced that no charges would be brought against officers involved in the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, National Guard and law enforcement personnel kitted out in winter-adapted tactical gear positioned themselves around the city. A quiet stillness hung in the air, particularly around Civic Park, the site of clashes between police and protesters during the summer.
Justin Blake, Jacob’s uncle, called on people around the nation to join the movement against police brutality. The family’s lawyers rejected the narrative that Blake was attempting to stab officer Rusten Sheskey as he walked away from the officers. Police say they were responding to a domestic violence call.
By the time the video capturing the shooting started rolling, officers had already tased Blake. Sheskey said he feared that Blake’s children, who were in the backseat of his truck, were in danger of being kidnapped. The family and their lawyers, however, assert that the shooting demonstrated a concerning lack of police training and professionalism.
On the evening of Jan. 5, some protesters gathered in and around Civic Park among the soldiers and police. Radio traffic from police scanners showed that officers were closely monitoring the movements of suspected protesters, and were communicating the license plates of various vehicles. A curfew was declared that evening, and the city’s emergency declaration is valid for an eight day period following Gravely’s decision. Blake’s shooting was investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI).