Multiple roads were closed in Kenosha Monday as the city braces for a potential charging decision in the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer last summer.
Police announced a series of "transportation disruptions" as they prepare for fallout following an anticipated announcement by Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley on whether the officer who shot Blake will face criminal charges.
The closures include:
▪️Sheridan Road from 52nd Street to 60th Street is closed
▪️53rd Street, 54th Street, 55th Street and 56th Street from Sheridan Road west to the railroad tracks are closed
▪️Modifications to city bus routes or the temporary cancellation of city bus services are possible.
▪️Access to the Metra train station may be interrupted, so commuters should allow extra time.
The road closures are one of several preparations the city has made to prepare for unrest one again surrounding the August 2020 shooting of Blake, which sparked days of protests, looting and vandalism.
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian was granted emergency powers by the Kenosha City Council Monday. The order will remain in effect for eight days, unless the city council opts to extend it.
The council’s resolution referenced the aftermath of similar decisions after a fatal police shooting in Wauwatosa and after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, as well as the immediate aftermath of the shooting in Kenosha in late August, which it described as “violent and riotous.”
Other preparations have already been launched ahead of that decision, which is expected to be announced by mid-January. The mayor and the Kenosha police department have indicated that they plan to institute curfews if necessary, designate demonstration spaces, limit city bus routes, close down roads and impose other safety restrictions if need be.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers also activated the state’s National Guard on Monday to provide assistance to local law enforcement in the event of unrest.
In the shooting, Blake, who is Black, was shot in the back seven times after walking away from Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey and two other officers who were trying to arrest him. Blake was shot after he opened the driver’s side door of an SUV and leaned into the vehicle, and the shooting was captured on cell phone video.
The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down and set off a nationwide firestorm of controversy. In Kenosha, protests and demonstrations began almost immediately, and several nights of looting and vandalism also took place.
Activists are asking residents and demonstrators to avoid a repeat after the Blake decision is handed down, calling for non-violent demonstrations.
“We want everyone to come out and be as loud as they want, but we don’t want destruction of property,” activist Tanya McLean said. “We’re for non-violence. Anything else isn’t acceptable for this community.”