Aug 24, 2020

Civil Rights Groups Press Conference Transcript August 24: Police Shooting of Jacob Blake

Civil Rights Groups Press Conference Transcript August 24: Police Shooting of Jacob Blake
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsCivil Rights Groups Press Conference Transcript August 24: Police Shooting of Jacob Blake

Civil rights groups held a press conference on August 24 to address the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Read the transcript of the event here.

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Speaker 1: (00:03)
Hello, and thank you for being here. And again, we offer our apologies for the confusion. We know that the community is hurting and I want to speak on behalf of the civil rights organizations, where Darryl Morin, national president for Forward Latino. Wendell Harris, the state president for the NAACP Wisconsin State Conference of Branches. Anthony Davis, the president of the local branch, Kenosha branch of the NAACP. Nancy Hernandez, the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens 339. Yoger Aguilar, president of LULAC council 354. Adelene Greene of the Coalition for Dismantling Racism and James Hall, the CEO of the Urban League of Racine and Kenosha. So on their behalf, since they can’t be here, we merged our press conference with the mayor’s because we wanted to let the community know that the civil rights organizations and other organizations in Kenosha are very concerned and we’re here to assist the family.

Speaker 1: (01:13)
We’re here to support the community. We are here to work with the mayor and our elected officials and the Kenosha Police Department to see that those held accountable are brought to… that we have a fair and equal process out during the investigation that’s going to be an independent investigation. So our civil rights organizations are here. We are monitoring the situation. We’ll continue to give updates to the community and we offer our deepest, deepest sympathy to the family of Jake Blake. I’m not sure what the status is there, but that’s the purpose of today, to unite the community, to support the community and let you know that our civil rights organizations are here for you. Thank you.

Mayor Antaramian: (02:08)
At this time, I’d call on the district attorney.

Distric Attorney: (02:18)
Thank you everyone. I just want to note on this sort of tragic day, the circumstances that this community has where one of our individuals was tragically shot. Now the community is expressing anger and rage and the healing has not yet been able to begin in our community. So I want to talk briefly about the process by which we now try to get justice for all the parties who are involved in this case. And that includes not only Mr. Blake, but the officers at the scene as well. That process is mandated by statute. So the way that process works is to specifically have a chance for people to have an investigation that is neutral, that is fair, and that is thorough.

Distric Attorney: (03:13)
And so what happens now is by statute, the KPD, the Kenosha Police Department has asked for the Division of Criminal Investigation, DCI, to be the investigating agency. We are fortunate that the investigators at DCI are persons who are the most experienced in the entire state at being able to conduct investigations of officer involved shootings. They are also a completely independent agency. And so what happens right now is that investigation has begun, but it’s at its earliest stages. When that investigation is completed and I’ll ask the attorney general, who’s here, to talk to you about that part of the process. Then the investigation results, so the materials gathered will be given to the Kenosha district attorney’s office. And at that point, we’ll review those things. And really the district attorney’s office is tasked with something very narrow.

Distric Attorney: (04:19)
We’re asked to make two determinations based on the evidence that is presented. One did any officer in this case commit any crimes and two, are there any crimes that we believe were committed that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. If those two things are concluded as a yes, then criminal charges would be brought at the end of that process. If for some reason that is not the determination, then in the spirit of transparency, what is then demanded and what will happen is that all of the materials that the district attorney’s office reviewed will then be immediately available to the public so that they’ll be able to make their own conclusions. And the district attorney’s office, in fact, will, in writing, explain any conclusions that we get out of the evidence. The US attorney’s office, the federal prosecutors have reached out, offering their assistance today.

Distric Attorney: (05:10)
It’s my hope that they will do a parallel civil rights investigation. So the feds also police and prosecute any alleged police misconduct. And so I’m hoping they will do an investigation that takes place at the same time, which will allow this community to heal sooner because independent prosecuting agencies will be able to make determinations at the same time about whether any criminal charges will be produced. The attorney general’s office has also reached out. Their prosecuting agency has also reached out offering assistance and I hope that I’ll be able to get their assistance to review some of the evidence as well. We’re going to try to do this as quickly as we can from the district attorney’s office. But of course, what is necessary for everyone to remember is that these kinds of huge decisions in a community that’s hurting badly as we are today are not decisions that can be made in haste.

Distric Attorney: (06:09)
And they are not decisions that can be made before we have the complete information to make fair and just decisions. So we expect to do that. We expect this process to continue, and we ask people to be as patient as they can. We support all advocacy that is peaceful. I’ve had thousands of emails today from people who are quite appropriately expressing their strong feelings about this case. There are people advocating in the streets and doing that peacefully. And we also applaud and agree with their right and their ability to have a real conversation about this case. And what we can’t condone is violence or the destruction of property. That’s not a part of that conversation. And so we ask people for every bit of patience they can muster in these difficult times and appreciate you all being here.

Mayor Antaramian: (07:03)
All right. [inaudible 00:07:05], Tim Mahone, you guys want to add anything to this? Oh, okay.

Speaker 4: (07:08)
Terrance.

Mayor Antaramian: (07:13)
That’s right. Terrance from Wisconsin Revolution. Terrance Warthen. Terrance, come on up.

Terrance Warthen: (07:33)
I just want to make a brief comment on this afternoon. First, I want to thank the mayor of the city of Kenosha, the county for inviting me to speak. I’m not an elected official. I’m a citizen much like those that you see outside in streets in this room right now. I understand in the most intimate of ways, the anger and the fear and the frustration that we see on our streets. I understand where that need for justice comes from. I applaud those that are exercising their rights, their first amendment rights to gather and speak and address the pain in this community.

Terrance Warthen: (08:26)
And as difficult as it is, and no I’m not the black guy at this press conference here to say that, I need lasting change and I need us to engage in this in a way that moves forward, because all of this is great. The attention on this issue helps us drive home that this community needs justice. But a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, these cameras will be gone, most of these protesters will be gone, but those of us in this city whose loved ones, whose livelihoods and whose hearts are here will still be here. I need you to do everything you can to help us find justice in this case for everyone and a lasting justice for this community.

Terrance Warthen: (09:14)
The divisions that we see played out nationally and statewide need to end with this. There is no they or them. This is one community. That needs to end. That’s how we find ourselves in these positions and how we found ourselves in this position in this city. We all live minutes from each other, seconds from each other. We are neighbors and we need to work together during this and moving forward. And I thank you for the time.

Speaker 6: (09:49)
Can I get you first and last name and your title? Sorry.

Terrance Warthen: (09:50)
First name is Terrance. T-E-R-R-A-N-C-E. Last name is Warthen. W-A-R-T-H-E-N. And I don’t have any titles right now, I’m just a citizen in the city and that’s enough.

Mayor Antaramian: (10:04)
Very quickly, Tim, could you. And then the attorney general will be the last speaker we have. And then we’re going to try to usher everyone out of here fairly quickly.

Speaker 7: (10:15)
Pretty good chance to ask questions right before that?

Mayor Antaramian: (10:17)
You’ll ask questions to the attorney general, because I think that’s probably the questions you have to ask. So at this time, I’d like to introduce the attorney general of state of Wisconsin. Oh, I’m sorry, Tim Mahone, Sorry. This isn’t the attorney general of the state of Wisconsin.

Tim Mahone: (10:34)
No. No. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Tim Mahone. I am a longtime resident here in Kenosha. Born and raised two blocks away from where Mr. Blake was shot. I received a call from my sister advising me of the situation and immediately came home so that we could do what we normally do and that’s come together as a community to protect and watch over our neighborhood, watch over our kids and watch over our families. I want to be very clear that the video was very disappointing, very disturbing, but we don’t have all the facts. The Mahone family sends its prayers to the Blake family and his children so that they recover and they heal from the memories and the pain of that awful evening. As you heard earlier, justice will prevail and we have to give justice time to deliver.

Tim Mahone: (11:49)
But I’m a long time residence here and I’m asking all of you to remain calm. I’m asking all of you to protect your children. I’m asking all of you, if you choose to protest, peacefully and nonviolently. My mother, Mary Lou and my father, Arthur, worked very hard so that all of us could live in this community safely and quietly and warmly and protect each other as we play up and down the streets. And when moments like this come, we have to come together to make it better. When moments like this come, we take our time and we’re patient and we listen to each other, regardless of your race and your color and your creed. Yes, I’m hurt. So all the civil rights organizations that we hear, LULAC, NAACP, with the Mahone Fund and my own family. We have the mayor, all our elected officials, County Executive Jim Kreuser, [inaudible 00:13:06], tip.

Tim Mahone: (13:11)
They know this committee wants to come together and work hard to make this better. Please don’t destroy our community. Ladies and gentlemen, please pray that Mr. Blake heals and recovers, that justice prevails. Thank you.

Mayor Antaramian: (13:34)
All right. At this time, I do want us to introduce the attorney general of the state of Wisconsin, Josh Kaul.

Josh Kaul: (13:46)
Thank you. First, I want to thank the many community leaders who are here and speaking about the important issues that this community is facing. First, I want to start with what the role of the Wisconsin Department of Justice is in the investigation relating to the officer involved shooting that happened yesterday in Kenosha. Under Wisconsin law in certain cases, an independent investigating agency is brought in to conduct investigations. In this case, as in many other cases involving officer involved shootings, the Wisconsin Department of Justice has been brought in and our role is to be an independent investigating agency. We are a statewide law enforcement agency, and our goal is very simple. We are going to vigorously and fully investigate the facts of this case. And in this case, as in any other case that we investigate, our pursuit of justice is going to be unwavering.

Josh Kaul: (14:46)
Now, we don’t make the prosecution decision in this case. That’s a decision that will be made ultimately by District Attorney Graveley, but we will be working closely with his office as additional facts and evidence are uncovered so that we work closely together. We understand that there is a need for this investigation to move swiftly. And our goal is to move swiftly with this investigation, but we’re only going to do so to the extent that it is consistent with protecting the integrity of this investigation. Because it is vital that we get as full and thorough an investigation as possible so we can pursue justice fully in this case. I also want to mention, I saw that Governor Evers has declared a special session.

Josh Kaul: (15:33)
It is vital that people who have been speaking up for months now around the state, be heard. It is vital that our elected officials hear directly from people. We have some of our elected officials here, and I’m sure that they will be listening to people’s voices. Those voices need to be represented in the debates that we have, and we do need to reform our criminal justice system. So I am hopeful that we will have many, many voices from around the state at those discussions. But my commitment to you is that the Department of Justice will fully and thoroughly investigate this case. So with that, I wanted to open it up for questions.

Speaker 7: (16:11)
Can you tell us, sir, was Mr. Blake armed?

Josh Kaul: (16:14)
I’m not going to comment on the details of the investigation for a few reasons. First and foremost, because this is an ongoing investigation, we don’t want to comment on the details in a way that might impact the integrity of the investigation. We will release certain information as the investigation moves forward, but always our first priority is protecting the integrity of the investigation.

Speaker 7: (16:37)
The identities of the officers have not been released, but can you tell us how many officers are a part of this investigation?

Josh Kaul: (16:43)
We have a standard protocol that we follow for identifying officers as well as victims in these cases. And we follow that protocol for a couple reasons. One is to, again, protect the integrity of the investigation and two is because we also provide victim services and we are able to do that better as long as we follow this protocol. So although that information has not yet been released, it will be released in the days ahead.

Speaker 10: (17:10)
Are you aware of the victim’s medical condition right now?

Josh Kaul: (17:15)
I’m only aware of what has been disclosed publicly, which is that he’s in serious condition.

Speaker 11: (17:20)
Can you say how many officers are on administrative leave right now as the investigation goes forward?

Josh Kaul: (17:25)
That would be a question for the Kenosha Police Department. I don’t know the answer to that.

Speaker 7: (17:31)
This might be a question for the mayor, but in terms of body cameras, the police department, do they have-

Mayor Antaramian: (17:34)
The police department does not have body cameras at this time. Scheduled in 2022, the purchase of body cameras, it’s been in the budget for a while. And part of the issue has been in dealing with in the state and getting the state to change the law and how long you have to the hold material. And so they did make that modification, which makes it so that’s financially affordable for communities to actually have the body cams and be able to maintain the material for the length of the time necessary.

Speaker 7: (18:07)
I’m sorry. It’s in the budget for 2022?

Mayor Antaramian: (18:09)
2022.

Speaker 6: (18:17)
Is there dash cam video?

Mayor Antaramian: (18:18)
Yes. The cars do have video.

Speaker 7: (18:19)
Is there dash cam video of this incident?

Mayor Antaramian: (18:22)
Of this incident? I would have to check with [inaudible 00:18:23].

Josh Kaul: (18:25)
And I’m not going to be speaking to the details of the ongoing investigation. But again, our goal is to provide information where we can to the public, but our first priority has to be protecting the integrity of investigation.

Speaker 7: (18:37)
Is the National Guard being called in?

Mayor Antaramian: (18:40)
The National Guard, at this time, has been called in and will be.

Speaker 6: (18:44)
Is there another curfew for tonight?

Mayor Antaramian: (18:46)
Yes, there is. The curfew is from 8:00 to 7:00.

Speaker 11: (18:51)
Mayor, there was video last night of a officer being struck by, I think, a brick.

Mayor Antaramian: (18:56)
That’s correct.

Speaker 11: (18:57)
Do you know the condition of that officer-

Mayor Antaramian: (18:59)
That officer is doing is doing well.

Speaker 12: (19:01)
Can we have you at the mics? I’m sorry. Thank you.

Mayor Antaramian: (19:05)
That officer is doing well and is recovering.

Speaker 7: (19:09)
Was it just one officer injured?

Mayor Antaramian: (19:10)
It was one officer that was injured, in a sense, seriously, yes.

Speaker 13: (19:16)
Can you say how many people, if any, were arrested last night during the protest?

Mayor Antaramian: (19:21)
That I could not tell you. We can get you that number shortly though.

Speaker 7: (19:26)
Were you injured [inaudible 00:19:27]?

Mayor Antaramian: (19:27)
No, I was not. It’s the little bit of a crowd.

Speaker 6: (19:32)
How do you get to a point where those who are protesting [inaudible 00:19:36] are clearly very angry and police and city officials can actually hear each other?

Mayor Antaramian: (19:44)
Well, one of the things the city has been doing is have been working with the faith based organizations in an attempt to deal with racism throughout the community and the issues of how that impacts the community. So how it impacts employment, how it impacts police community relationships, how it impacts education. So we’ve been putting together a package on that and have been working on it for quite a while. And we’re fairly close to having it launched. Actually, it was one of the reasons that I had some of the clergy coming today because they have been taking the lead on that. Because I think it’s important for people to understand that no community is… I guess my old phrase I used to love is that, a community is only as strong as its weakest neighbor. And I think that’s with people too. If we don’t work together, it’s not going to work at all.

Mayor Antaramian: (20:40)
So we need to find ways to communicate, find ways of being compassionate with each other and willing to listen each other. And that’s, I think, probably the toughest part we’re dealing with right now. People are mad. People are upset and there’s a lot of reasons for that. And a lot of good reasons for that. But in the end, the only way this country and this community survives is if we learn to listen, and right now I’m afraid we’re having trouble doing that. So part of the goal was to bring the clergy in, bring in activists, bring in the different individuals throughout the community and have them work with us in trying to solve the problem. I was in touch with a gentleman from the Department of Revenue, not Department Revenue, Department of Justice, federal Department of Justice, to come in and work with us in our community. And he has put in the request to do so.

Mayor Antaramian: (21:30)
So hopefully that will be another individual to come in and bring resources to the community and help the community to heal. I think in the case of Tim, you hit it on the head. The community needs to heal. We need to understand that people are hurting. We also need to make sure people understand that you have to listen to each other. Without that nothing works.

Speaker 7: (21:54)
Can you just [crosstalk 00:21:55] because I think people will be curious. When was the decision made to switch the press conference from the park to come in here? How did that sort of play out?

Mayor Antaramian: (22:04)
It basically played out because the situation, they weren’t sure of the safety of everyone at the time. And so I didn’t want to take any chances. As you see, I’m not one of those who’s necessarily shy of going into a crowd, but I have other people here and I don’t want to create a problem for anybody. So from my perspective, it just made sense to do that. And so that’s why.

Speaker 6: (22:26)
Mayor, can you pronounce your last name?

Mayor Antaramian: (22:28)
Oh, come on. A name like mine, everyone knows. It’s Antaramian, but if you want to pronounce it correctly, it’s Antaramian. So Antaramian works.

Speaker 6: (22:41)
Thank you.

Mayor Antaramian: (22:43)
Okay everybody. The police will now kind of escort everyone out of the building to get you back to where you need to be.