KENOSHA — Two weeks after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, people came together to make their voices heard and call on lawmakers to act.
The marching goes on as Kenosha tries to heal and rebuild following Blake's shooting. While people are still outraged about what happened, they’re also motivated to improve their neighborhoods.
Gregory Bennett, founder of Peace in the Streets, helped organize an event Sunday with Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus to allow the public and families impacted by police use of force to address lawmakers.
“Everybody’s been talking for a week, two weeks all about it, but ain’t nobody asked the questions from the people, cause anybody in this city can be that same person,” Bennett said. “You’ve got to start listening to the people, instead of just preaching to them.”
The conversation spanned a variety of topics, but the focus was on police reform.
“I want to see cops not be allowed and able to get away with killing people,” one community member said.
“I demand de-escalation and training longer than a cosmetologist, a hairstylist has,” Saebra Laken, a Milwaukee activist said.
“Why is excessive use of force so loosely defined that these officers can get away with anything that they want?” Whitney Cabal, a Kenosha activist said.
Lawmakers in attendance included Kenosha Democrats, Reps. Tod Ohnstad and Tip McGuire, and three members of Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus: including Sen. Lena Taylor, and Reps. LaKeshia Myers, and David Bowen, all Democrats from Milwaukee. Kenosha Alderman Anthony Kennedy of District 10, also took part in the event.
“We will come wherever we are needed. We are the representatives for everybody in this state,” Myers said.
Families impacted by use of force solidified the community’s messages.
Monique West’s son, Ty’rese was shot and killed in June 2019 by a Mt. Pleasant police officer. The officer said he stopped him on his bicycle because he did not have a headlight. He was cleared in her son’s death.
“I already knew they was going to justify it because that’s what they do. They need to start holding these police officers accountable for what they’re doing to us,” Monique said.
Jacob Blake’s uncle, Justin, expressed that this will be an important time in our history.
“Maybe your name won’t be Martin or Malcolm,” he said, “but they’ll know that we changed our people for generations to come and all the little Jakes around this nation.”
Community members talked about other issues including food insecurity in Kenosha’s ‘Uptown’ neighborhood, and voting rights for felons on probation or parole. At the event they were also able to sign petitions and register to vote.