Saturday, August 29, 2020

Another Senseless Shooting: Kenosha Wisconsin and Patience Wanes in Louisville

It's not a particularly large community; just under 100,000 residents. It's about two and half hours and 156 miles up I-43 from its better known and slightly larger neighbor, Green Bay. Like its more famous neighbor, Kenosha Wisconsin sets on the edge of Lake Michigan.

However, Kenosha has recently burst onto the national scene in a way no city wants to---a shooting. The video, taken by a bystander across the street, has been seen all over America and perhaps through much of the world by now, followed by the inevitable protests and riots, and sadly, more shootings.

Kenosha Wisconsin has typically been, up until now, a relatively quiet Midwestern community, much like a similar city, Louisville Kentucky which springs to life the first Saturday in May for one of the most famous horse racing events in the world, the Kentucky Derby, but not this year.

This year the Derby was postponed due to the COVID virus until September. Due to the shooting death of Breonna Taylor in March and the continued threats of more protests, riots, lootings, vandalism, carjackings, and physical violence, the Derby may again be postponed if not outright cancelled.

Many businesses have been forced to closed (some for good) while downtown has come to look like a city rocked by a natural disaster amid the boarded up buildings and empty streets. Even the police headquarters and court house are boarded up in what appears to be a subliminal symbol of surrender; a reflection of the city's failure of leadership.
The death of Breonna Taylor triggered widespread protests for justice has devolved into riots, looting, arson, and assaults, not to mention the destruction of historic statues and monuments as the protests were subtly hijacked by those more interested in anarchy than justice.

In the case of George Floyd, who died while being taken into custody by the Minneapolis Police on May 25, only added fuel to the fire amid claims of "systematic racism" not just in police departments nationwide, but embedded within society as a whole.

We don't know much about what happened in Kenosha, but it couldn't have happened at a worse time given the country's current racial tensions, as well as frustration over the continuing COVID-19 restrictions and vitriol political hatred which has infected the nation worse than the virus itself.

The footage appears to show an attempted murder by a police officer. But as we all know, appearances are often deceiving. We're seeing only one angle of the event making it all that more important to look at the facts than to react emotionally.

We know that police were called to the 2800 block of 40th Street at about 5:11 PM over what was reported to be a "domestic incident", which could be anything from an argument to a knock down drag out brawl or something involving a weapon. Those involved could be drunk or on drugs while the incident itself could range from something petty to something long standing. The police officers simply don't know until they arrive on the scene.

The video shows two officers following Jacob Blake, age 29, away from a house to his car with guns already drawn. Obviously "something" has already occurred to put the officers on alert. Guns don't typically get pulled unless there is a potential danger.

Blake is shown opening the driver's side door; his three children (ages 8, 5, and 3) are in the backseat. At this point things quickly goes awry. An officer tugs on Blake's shirt and almost simultaneously fires seven shots in quick succession into Blake's back at near point blank range. Why?

Nothing in the video suggests any aggressive acts by Blake (did he say something?). He doesn't appear to be going for a weapon. Some individuals on social media have said that there appears to be something (a possible gun maybe?) on the ground just by the car door. However, it's hard to say if that's a weapon or not. The video just doesn't give us enough detail to say one way or the other.

Despite multiple shots at near point blank range, Blake wasn't killed. He was airlifted to the Froedtert Memorial Hospital in Milwaukee where he underwent hours of surgery to remove the bullets and (hopefully) repair any damage to internal organs. His post-op condition is still listed as critical.

Meanwhile, in accordance with standard police procedure, the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending completion of an internal investigation. Nevertheless, word spread quickly after the incident. It didn't take long before crowds turned into protests, which by nightfall, had turned into riots. A car lot and a church with a "BLM" sign were among the property burned to the ground.

Since the shooting, the protests and riots have spread to neighboring communities including Appleton (birthplace of Harry Weiss aka "Harry Houdini"), Oshkosh, Fon du Lac, Manitowoc, and to Milwaukee. Government officials, reacting rather than being proactive given the current racial tensions nationwide, posture for the media (and voters) by promising a comprehensive review of not just the incident, but whether any "systematic racism" exists with any government departments.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D), promised to call a special session of the Legislature to review police accountability and transparency and would call out the National Guard if the situation got out of hand.

Kentucky's Governor Andy Beshear (D) has refused to deploy his state's National Guard despite the destruction and appearance of heavily armed groups such as the Black Panthers inspired group, "Not Fucking Around Coalition" or NFAC and Antifa, not to mention BLM and the Until Freedom group (as an aside, BLM has shown a tendency towards violence as well).

In expected hyperbolic partisanship, Wisconsin's Democratic Party chairman, Ben Wilker, has called the shooting "a symptom of the deadly disease of white supremacy and racism that must be confronted and defeated". Wilker is a Harvard educated white guy from a upper middle class family. Both of his parents are academics. His father teaches medical ethics at Harvard while his mother is a senior scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Educational Researcher and is a consultant for the United Nations. Huh.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Police Association issued a statement asking officials to hold off until the matter can be reviewed and there is clearer understanding of events. They want to avoid any actions which would acerbate the already tense situation. However, not everybody was listening.

A white 17 year old, Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch Illinois was arrested for the shooting deaths of two individuals and the wounding of a third at a protest in Kenosha. Dead are a 26 and 36 year old while another 36 year was wounded. Rittenhouse voluntarily surrendered to police immediately after the shootings, was identified as a lifeguard and an avid police supporter. He claimed the shootings were in self defense, which begs the question as to why he was out there to begin with?

So, while the nation copes with another tragic shooting, a federal grand jury has charged the four officers involved with the death of George Floyd with possible criminal civil rights violations. Typically, federal authorities wait until the state concludes its investigation and legal actions before moving forward. However, in what's considered to be a highly unusual move (and perhaps in doing so, sending a signal to state officials), federal authorities have jumped out in front of the state.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis authorities are continuing their investigation. As it now stands, Derek Chauvin, the lead officer, is facing second and third degree murder and manslaughter charges. Chauvin, as you'll recall, was the officer who kneeled on George's neck which resulted in his death. Chauvin is currently being held in the Oaks Park Heights State Prison, a "Level 5" maximum security prison.

The remaining three--now former--officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Toa Thao, and Thomas Lane, are each facing charges as accomplices in George's death. Trial isn't expected until next year (Chauvin's trial date is in March). The three are free on bail for the time being.

While matters are moving swiftly in Minnesota, the same can't be said of the Breonna Taylor case. Initially, the police provided little in the way of information, and much of that was incomplete or inaccurate. They acted as if this was just another botched raid, and despite the accidental and unfortunate death of Taylor, the matter would simply blow over. Well, it didn't. What it did was blow up in their faces.

So, here we are, some five, almost six months after the shooting death of Ms. Taylor by some of "Louisville's finest", all but stuck in place. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. Louisville has suffered (and I do mean "suffered") from a utter lack of leadership by the city's mayor. The Chief of Police, Steve Conrad, was fired just after this incident for a whole host of reasons, but for brevity's sake, we'll just call it ineptitude. Metro Council too has shown very little in terms of leadership.

Kentucky's Attorney General, Daniel Cameron (R), recently said that his investigation is still ongoing. Part of the reason was the painfully slow response of the LMPD's Public Integrity Unit providing information which should have provided originally. For some reason, the police department continues to drag its feet. The ballistics report remains incomplete. Supposedly, the FBI is involved with that, and have made repeated trips back to Ms. Taylor's apartment looking for further information.

As for the three officers involved in the shooting, Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly, and Myles Cosgrove, none have been charged. It's been suggested that Hankison could be charged with wanton endangerment. Acting Police Chief, Robert Schroeder, did fire him for "extreme indifference to the value of human life" for firing ten shots blindly into Ms. Taylor's dark apartment (and the one door). Regarding the other two officers, Mattingly and Cosgrove, it's about the search warrant.

The AG, Daniel Cameron, must prove they knew or suspected that the warrant to search Taylor's apartment was obtained fraudulently by another officer, Detective Joshua Jaynes. However, they can't be charged with Taylor's death since they were allegedly acting in self defense.

Jaynes obtained the no knock warrant based upon a statement from a U.S. Postal Inspector that drugs were supposedly being sent to Ms. Taylor's apartment. However, the inspector later stated in a interview with WDRB News that he said no such thing. What does this mean?

Jaynes could be charged with obtaining a warrant illegally. If Mattingly and Cosgrove knew this, it was an illegal search but that's a big "IF". They could face anything from a reprimand to possible disciplinary action plus a possible civil lawsuit. Meanwhile, Mattingly and Cosgrove are on desk duty.

Therefore, it appears that none of the three officers could be charged with Ms. Taylor's death. A far cry from the protestors are demanding. Perhaps it's not surprising since Louisville officers are rarely charged to begin with. That may be the real reason for the delay by LMPD and with the November election approaching, why Cameron and the other politicians aren't in any hurry for a quick resolution either.

Kenosha Shooting and Protests: Here's What We Know

17 year old arrested in shooting death of 2 at Kenosha protest

Federal grand jury investigating civil rights charges in the police killing of George Floyd

The countdown for answers in Breonna Taylor case looks as patience wavers in Louisville

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