Evers calls for special session on police accountability following Kenosha officer-involved shooting
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers is calling the Wisconsin State Legislature into a special session on policing accountability and transparency following the officer-involved shooting of a Black man in Kenosha.
The special session is set to take place at noon on Aug. 31.
Evers is asking lawmakers to take up a package of criminal justice reforms announced earlier this year that call for statewide use of force standards, ban choke-holds and no-knock warrants and require annual de-escalation training for officers.
Evers first introduced the legislation in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the unarmed Black man from Minneapolis who died in police custody this May.
“Leaders show up. Leaders do the work that needs to be done and that the people demand of them. We cannot wait for Republican leadership to show up for work because clearly they intend to keep us waiting. That’s not going to cut it,” Evers said during a press conference on Monday.
Republicans control the state Legislature in Wisconsin. On Monday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he is forming a task force focusing on racial disparities, education opportunities, public safety and police policies and standards.
“This is not a time for political posturing or to suggest defunding law enforcement. When a community is hurting, the most important thing that we can do is to listen,” Vos said in a statement.
The call for a special session comes a day after Jacob Blake was shot in Kenosha. Blake was airlifted to the hospital and is alive. Video of the shooting is circulating online shows Blake was shot in the back while trying to get inside an SUV. News 3 Now has not verified this video and police have not released any video related to this incident.
“This was not an accident. This wasn’t bad police work. This felt like some sort of vendetta being taken out on a member of our community,” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said during the Monday news conference.
“This is familiar violence. To too many of us. Especially to those of us on who are on the receiving end. Whose communities have been over policed. Whose children learn early on that police officers aren’t always serving and protecting them as they should.”
According to the Associated Press, three officers have been placed on leave, as is policy during officer-involved shootings. The Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) is leading the investigation. DCI has not specified how many officers were involved and how many are on leave.
Blake’s shooting sparked protests in Kenosha and Madison early Monday morning. Several buildings along State Street were damaged in Madison. Protesters in Portland, Oregon were also heard chanting his name during Sunday night’s demonstrations.
The Wisconsin National Guard will deploy 125 members to Kenosha County to help local authorities with protests. A state of emergency curfew will go into place at 8 p.m. for Kenosha County. The curfew lasts until 7 a.m.