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Evers sows division with Kenosha Statement

Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 7, 2021

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers is taking heat this week over his response to the Kenosha County District Attorney’s decision not to file charges in the police-involved shooting of a black man. 

DA Michael Gravely determined Officer Rusten Sheskey acted in self-defense when he shot Jacob Blake in late August after officers responded to a domestic incident. 

“I do not believe the state could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Sheskey was not acting lawfully in self-defense or defense of others which is the legal standard the State would have to meet to obtain a criminal conviction in this case,” Graveley wrote in his report. 

The shooting sparked three days of riots by Black Lives Matter protesters and others, leaving Kenosha’s business districts badly damaged, several injured and two killed.  

Evers helped light the violence fuse when he issued an incendiary statement vilifying police. He doubled down on some of the same rhetoric in his mealy-mouthed response to the DA’s decision.  

“Over the past year, our state and country have witnessed a movement—one that echoes hundreds of years of movements that have come before it, demanding justice, equity, and peace for Black lives,” he said in a statement. “What is just as clear today as it has been is we have failed to deliver on these promises, both as a state and as a country.” 

Nothing in Evers statement noted anything about the thorough review of evidence, the lengthy investigative process to arrive at what law enforcement experts, both conservative and liberal, say was the right and legal decision. 

Andrew Hitt, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, blasted Evers for his divisive rhetoric, demanding the Democrat apolologize and retract his “reckless statement” blaming police. 

“Gov. Tony Evers again hijacked a tragedy for his own political purposes. Instead of bringing a sense of calm to the state, Tony Evers decided to ignore the facts and sow division,” Hitt said in a statement. “When Tony Evers added fuel to the fire without having the facts last summer, it had disastrous consequences. Instead of apologizing when the evidence proved him wrong, Tony Evers doubled down.”

Blake, 29, was shot several times after repeatedly resisting arrest, climbing into his vehicle and reaching for a knife, investigators said. A blade also was found in the footwell of his vehicle. 

“If you don’t believe you can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, you have an ethical obligation not to issue charges,” Graveley said during a news conference on Tuesday. Ethical obligation seems to mean nothing to partisan hack Evers. 

The district attorney said Blake lied to investigators during questioning. At the time of the police call, he was armed and wanted on a felony warrant. Blake was facing charges of third-degree sexual assault and two misdemeanors tied to an altercation at his girlfriend’s home weeks before. Children were in his vehicle at the time officers attempted to take him into custody. 

It’s been a rough week for Evers. 

“While the state learned of his disastrous handling of the COVID-19 vaccination effort, Gov. Evers was busy rushing out a press statement defending the indefensible actions of convicted domestic abuser Jacob Blake,” state Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg) said in a statement. He was referring to reports that Wisconsin is badly lagging in the distribution of the vaccine in large part because of the administration’s lack of a clear plan. 

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