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Kenosha reflects on one-year anniversary of police shooting of Jacob Blake

Jacob Blake family
Posted at 8:47 AM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 14:33:36-04

KENOSHA — The city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, continues to heal one year after a police officer shot Jacob Blake multiple times, leaving Blake paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life.

Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting, in which Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake several times in the back as Blake walked toward his car.

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 clearly remembers the day officers shot Blake. He was riding his bike downtown when he saw several police squad cars zoom by.

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

He didn't see the video of the police shooting that happened in his district until later that day. In the year since, he says 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," Kennedy said. "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."

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 endpoint. 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 seen downtown, where fewer and fewer storefronts are boarded up.

This story was originally published by Sarah McGrew on Scripps station TMJ4 in Milwaukee.