Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian has announced a series of public listening sessions to help unify the community and move forward three weeks after a police officer shot Jacob Blake, sparking several nights of protests.
At a news conference Monday, Antaramian said feedback from the listening sessions, which begin later this week, will become a part of the city's Commit to Action Roadmap - a plan developed in partnership with faith leaders and the U.S. Department of Justice.
"The first part of healing is listening, not talking, listening," the mayor stated. "And that's what we're starting to do."
Antaramian estimated the damage sustained during nights of unrest in the city at $50 million, and said he's working to secure both state and federal funding for rebuilding efforts.
The mayor also announced body cameras for Kenosha Police Department officers will be funded in the 2021 budget, and he's evaluating "funding options" to allocate additional dollars toward police training.
It's a change of course for the city and Antaramian who initially said in the days following the Blake shooting that the city allocated money for police body cameras in its 2022 budget, not for the coming year.
"We didn't always agree on various items," Alderman David Bogdala, Kenosha common council president, said Monday as the mayor announced the body camera funding proposal. "But this is one thing we're united on. We are going to do what's right for Kenosha."
Following Monday's news conference, the mayor met briefly with business owners and Kenosha residents who demanded a seat at the table in the future.
"We want to make sure there's effective change, and there's justice coming to the table," said Alvin Owens, a Kenosha business owner. "And we want answers."
The newly-announced listening sessions will be two hours long and start on Sept. 20 at Journey Church. Although the sessions are open to the public, capacity will be limited due to restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus.