Lt. Gov. Barnes labels Kenosha DA’s decision a negligent failure

By: - January 5, 2021 5:52 pm
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (Screenshot from his statement on 8/24/20 regarding Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back by Kenosha police on Sunday.)

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (Screenshot from his statement on 8/24/20 regarding Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back by Kenosha police on Sunday.)

Many public officials weighed in on the decision announced Tuesday afternoon by Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley not to criminally charge Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey, who shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back.

Gov. Tony Evers stopped short of commenting on the decision itself, opting instead to reiterate that more work needs to be done to combat racism and make our state more equitable. 

“Today’s decision is further evidence that our work is not done,” said Evers. “I reaffirm my commitment to action to build a more just, more equitable state for every Wisconsinite.” 

And in a clear criticism of the Legislature — which rejected his call for a special session to deal with issues of policing and racial justice — he added, “And yet, when presented the opportunity to rise to this moment and this movement and take action to provide meaningful, commonsense reform to enhance accountability and promote transparency in policing in our state, elected officials took no action.”

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, however, went directly after the district attorney and his decision not to prosecute Sheskey.

“I wish I could say that I’m shocked. It’s another instance in a string of misapplications of justice,” said Barnes on his personal Twitter account. “It keeps happening, and there’s always a new excuse. The non-prosecuting DAs are as negligent as the officers in these situations.

“What is video evidence anyway if they just watch it and interpret things other than reality?

“Police accountability is one thing, but there’s a much deeper failure that allows a person to see the footage and ultimately determine nothing went wrong. And honestly if the DA did charge the officer, people would have talked about how bold the decision was. 

“That’s where we are. That’s how bad it is. Just doing the right thing will get you all the kudos. This is ridiculous.”


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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.