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Kenosha residents and community leaders reflect on the year following police shooting of Jacob Blake, social unrest

Posted at 1:06 PM, Aug 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 08:30:26-04

KENOSHA  — The Kenosha comunity continues to heal as today marks one year since a police officer shot Jacob Blake multiple times, likely leaving Blake paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life.

The officer, Rusten Sheskey, claimed he feared for his life. He was never charged and is back on the job.

Following the shooting, unrest erupted in Kenosha with damage done to several properties. Exactly one year later, the city is still in the process of rebuilding not only physical property, but relationships and trust as well.

Debby Tenuta was out for a walk on Monday morning. She has lived in Kenosha her whole life and when reflecting back on last summer's unrest, Tenuta said she's still shocked.

"From beginning to end just a state of shock. And just seeing our beautiful hometown just in a state of such unrest and destruction, sadness, desperation," Tenuta said.

But she feels like she's also starting to see a change in her community.

"Things seem a lot calmer. I think people are more willing to talk and are a little bit more open-minded," she said.

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District 10 Alderperson Anthony Kennedy said he remembers the day Jacob Blake was shot clearly. He was ridding his bike to downtown when he saw several police squad cars zoom by.

"It just started out as a very nice day... and changed so quickly."

It wasn't until later in the evening he was shown the video of the police shooting that happened right in his district.

In the year since, he said the conversation around policing has continued. He points to a violence interruption program as a positive change.

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"There's some things in reference to policing that we're going to talk about, but the K-CORE program that the Kenosha Police Department has set up in reference to doing a violence interruption model. Using civilians, using intense training, using people that are well aware of what these elements can be, that's amazing. Would that have happened without the Jacob Blake shooting? I don't know," Kennedy said.

And although he's happy to see that kind of progress being made, he doesn't believe the city has healed yet.

"It's still a process. And maybe it's not something that is going to have an end point. But it's something that is going to get incrementally better, incrementally better and incrementally better," he said.

Some of those incremental changes can also be see downtown where fewer and fewer storefronts are boarded up.

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