Aug 26, 2020
Kenosha, WI Officials Press Conference Transcript August 26: Protest Shooting
Kenosha, WI officials held a press conference on August 26 to address the shooting that took place during a protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Well, thank you all for being here. It has been a difficult time in the city of Kenosha, a devastating time for the community. There have been deaths that are sad. There are situations where we have an officer shooting that is being investigated and has been given to a third party, which is the state of Wisconsin, and they will be the ones who will do the investigation. And then once the investigation is done, it will be turned over to the district attorney’s office. What I want to talk to you about though today is what’s going on. There are a lot of very good people in this community and what is happening to them is wrong. People have differences of opinion. We have different concepts of how things should be done. Those are all fine, but violence in the community is not acceptable. Violence to property, violence to people, absolutely unacceptable, and it is up to us to make sure that that does not continue.
We have called on many groups for support. And one of those I’d like to think at the moment is Mrs. Blake who came out and said, stop. This is not what her son wanted. And so I want to give a hard thank you to her because she cared about the community and what was being done in her son’s name and that is appreciated. But we still have so many things that we have to deal with and a lot of misunderstanding of what is being done in this community for the safety of the public and the safety of the community. I want to just kind of walk through a little bit of what occurred after the shooting. The city made the request to the state for support and Governor Evers granted the National Guard to come in. We have continually talked with him about the Guard and the Guard has continued its numbers into the community to help us deal with the looting and violence that has occurred.
We also have had the situation where we have called for a curfew, which is seven o’clock to 7:00, and that curfew is there to protect the public. We need to make sure people are off the streets so law enforcement can do their job. And I think sometimes people forget that they think that because you call it curfew, it’s there just so you can give tickets to everyone. It is not, it is there to protect the public. And that is so, so very important at this point in time. Kenosha is a community that in the long run, will recover. We will work together to resolve our issues. We will work with the minority community to continue to move forward and we will make this a better place to live. But it will take time, it will take healing. It will require us to reach out to all parties of the community and actually have honest dialogue.
So I’m here today basically to, number one, inform everyone that we are not planning on letting this violence continue. Number two, we are going to work together to resolve the racial issues in our community and we are going to make that work. The only other thing I’d like to add, which I forgot to say earlier and I apologize, I’m a little off topic, there’s been a lot of talk about the support from Governor Evers. Governor Evers has been very supportive to the community and I think everyone needs to know that. They also need to know that there’s this concept that the federal government is not participating in Kenosha. They are. The FBI is here, ATF is here and the US Marshals are here. So it’s important for everyone to know that this has been an activity where everyone has been involved in trying to make things better.
I want to leave you with one last thought and that is, there’s an address that I’ve always used in all my elections and campaigns, and it’s going to sound a little hokey, I suppose, a community is only as strong as its weakest neighborhood. As a country, we are only as strong as the weakest city. We need to make sure that we help create or stop this divide and this anger that is going on in this country, and that only begins with each one of us willing to honestly talk with each other. So thank you for listening to me. And I will now turn it over to [inaudible 00:04:58].
Some of mine is going to mirror what the mayor said. And he actually reminded me that the night of the shooting, I did talk to Mrs. Blake. I talked to her for probably 10 minutes on the phone, got her some information that she wanted about her son. Told her what hospital to go to to see. She was probably one of the calmest, nicest people I’ve talked to that entire evening. And I haven’t talked to her since, but I agree, she was a very nice person, a calming person. Started off with, we got called in on Sunday after 5:30 to assist the city in a shooting. Our job is to protect the scene and it got a little hairy out there as the night went on. Squad cars were damaged. I’ve seen some video taken by people. I’m very proud of our staff, the Kenosha Police Department staff that went out there and protected the scene calmly, politely, and stood there in the face of rocks being thrown.
One of the sea captain got something that hit him in the back of the head and into the ground right in front of me. But everyone on our end was very calm that night and maintained security and got out of there really as well as we could. The march came downtown. The focal point for each and every demonstration that really we’ve seen is the building that we’re in right now, the safety building, I think that’s because law enforcement, the city police department, the Kenosha Sheriff’s Department is stationed here. To some people, we’re the bad people. And to the majority of the community, we are the people that go out and help save and protect. The other part of it is the courthouse. The courthouse represents justice. And I know the people are looking for justice. Whatever it is, there’s justice in where we’re found guilty and when we’re found innocent.
So I’m sure that’ll come out in time. On Monday, the numbers grew. Our resources also grew. We put out an all call throughout the state to local sheriff’s departments and police departments, and they showed up in numbers, in the hundreds. Monday, we thought we put it out to the National Guard and we found that we had our wires crossed. We didn’t actually request the National Guard on Monday night, or was it Sunday? The first night, because we had our wires crossed. The second night, they did deliver people, and last night, they delivered more. And we’re very thankful for the National Guard. Like I said, we had sheriff’s departments coming from all over the state of Wisconsin. They brought their personnel, they brought their equipment, they brought their armored cars. They brought things that we needed. The state of Wisconsin and the federal government, the FBI, the ETF, US Marshals, they brought technology, they brought equipment too.
And the resources and the information that they have passed to us is nuts. We have got the DNR wardens that are down here that don’t have riot gear who are out every day in the face of everything. State troopers were here. The local agencies here in Kenosha and around us couldn’t be better brothers and sisters than we could ask for to come and help protect Kenosha. Tuesday, we put up a fence around this building. All of you were allowed to come in through the gate. And the reason we put the fence around here is, like I said earlier, this is a focal point for protesting, and it still was last night. The protesters want to come here, say their piece, which is wonderful. No one in law enforcement, no one [inaudible 00:09:07] has any issues with peaceful groups coming in here and protesting. We support that.
I know that about a month ago, the mayor and I went over to one. We kneeled for the Kneel For Nine with the group of people that were there. We were there supporting. The fence that’s around these buildings, what it actually allows us to do, because this building holds inmates and if somehow this structure caught on fire, we can’t move these people that quickly to get them to a safe spot. We have to protect the inmates. And we put the fence up to help protect this campus. The first night, there was probably about $300,000 damage to this campus alone. And what the fence also does is it allows us to take the resources we needed to protect it, to move them out into the field on the outside of the fence and do an even better job of working with the people in our community. Last night with the fence up, we were much more assertive in the way we handled things.
Shortly after eight o’clock, the curfew went into effect at eight o’clock. We moved out a armored car and we basically said, you need to leave. Curfew’s eight o’clock, you’re in violation of the curfew. And if you don’t, we will be taking into custody. Then some left, several left. We watched on the screen, we watched several leaving. They followed the orders. And then when some didn’t come, I saw it live, but I don’t know if you saw it. They started pelting the officers over the fence with stones and bricks, and the armored car was pelted. There were Molotov cocktails thrown. We gave them probably about another 10, 15 minutes and then we did tear gas to help disperse the crowd. It’s not something we wanted to do, but with the damage and everything that went on Monday night, it was something we had to do. We had to disperse the crowd and get them moving out.
The longer we let them go, the longer we let them build, the more dangerous the situation became. Tonight, we’re changing the curfew to seven o’clock. We will gladly support all the peaceful protests that are really throughout Kenosha County up until seven o’clock. And after that, we ask everybody to go home. I’m very proud of the people of Kenosha. Last night, when I went to move from this building out to the command post, I drove down the streets and there was no one on it. The people of Kenosha let law enforcement and all our partners do our job. They let us do truthfully a much better job last night than we could do on Monday night. And the people stayed home. They moved their cars, they did everything we asked them to. And I want to thank the people of Kenosha for doing that. Tonight, we’re moving it to seven o’clock. Seven o’clock, the curfew will allow us to disperse whoever’s gathered.
Maybe there’ll be no one, and I hope that’s true, but disperse whoever’s gathered in daylight so it’ll help us to be able to see better. It’ll help the people to be able to see better. They won’t be dispersing in dark. And we also find that after dark, we have many more issues with violence and things that go on. We had several hundred law enforcement, a few hundred National Guard, and again, on TV I watched these hundreds of law enforcement calmly go out there and first of all, try to get people to leave. And then they resisted, many were taken into custody. And for some, it was truly just a curfew violation, but we’re going to be very assertive in taking these people. If you don’t follow the curfew, we’re going to do our best to take you into custody for that violation. Wednesday, we have additional staffing coming from around the state.
Unbelievable the amount of sheriffs and police departments that have offered to come both with equipment and people, to come down here and help protect Kenosha County. As the mayor said, we have got the National Guard, FBI, US Marshall, DNR, Wisconsin State Patrol, and agencies throughout the state helping to protect this city. Every day we get better. In Kenosha, we are not accustomed to riots. We’re not accustomed to it. We pulled resources. We pulled knowledge from federal and state agencies, and the cooperation between all of them have been incredible. There’s some misinformation, as the mayor pointed out, that the state isn’t helping, or the federal government isn’t helping. Everyone’s helping. Everyone is helping. Can all these different agencies round up the numbers we would have loved to have had on Monday night? They can’t. They don’t work like police agencies do.
So with a few days notice, these agencies were able to get more resources here. What we have been-
Well, we have been finding and yesterday I did a couple of interviews in social media. I don’t do social media. I don’t do Facebook. I think I’d be too upset all the time if I did it. But the one thing that we found is that we do get information from those sources, but there’s also a lot of misinformation coming from those sources. Yesterday as the day went on, it started off in the morning and there was almost no social media about anything happening yesterday, almost none. By noon it had grown by early afternoon it had multiplied again. And some of the things is all of you get and the people of Kenosha get Facebook updates and social media updates from other people, it gets passed and passed and passed.
And we were getting the same misinformation on Facebook that again hundreds of times we get the same thing and they would actually even say there’s 30 vehicles this location and we’d send a squad car there and there was no one there. So whoever’s doing this put out this to scare the people of Kenosha and it’s working, it’s working well. I want the people of Kenosha to know though is that we are working hard. We’re working very hard and we’re getting better at this. And we’ve got more resources coming in and we’re not like the mayor said too, we’re not going to put up with what we saw Monday night. We’re not going to. Does that mean we’re going to stop it all? It depends on numbers that come. We’re not going to be able to stop it all, but we’re going to be assertive in helping to protect the city of Kenosha in Kenosha County. And our neighbors from around the County, state and country are here to help to.
We blocked off the interstate and we picked that up, other larger cities did that and it seemed effective. And when I talked to other agencies on the state and federal level they seemed that that worked. And it’s an inconvenience for our local people. I am so sorry. Sorry that we did that, but there’s a reason for it.,It was to help protect you. Yesterday I had a person call me and say, “Why don’t you deputized citizens who have guns to come out and patrol the city of Kenosha?” And I’m like, “Oh, hell no.” And what happened last night and I think chief Miskinis is going to talk about it was probably the perfect reason why I wouldn’t. Once I deputize somebody they fall under the constitution of the state of Wisconsin. They fall under the County of Kenosha. They fall under my guidance.
They have to follow my policy, they have to follow my supervisors. They are a liability to me and the County and the state of Wisconsin. I don’t know this for sure but the incident that happened last night where two people lost their lives, I think they were part of this group that wanted me to deputize them. Is it part of the County of Kenosha that would have been in reality two deputy sheriffs who killed two people. It would have been one deputy sheriff killed two people, sorry about that. And the liability that goes with that would have been immense. So that’s one of the things that was brought up to me. And I just said, there’s no way. There’s no way that I would deputize people. One of the things that we had problems with last night is a lot of protesters come for the show. I mean there’s good protesters who come and pray and kneel and do all that stuff and they chant and I got no issue with that. I was doing it several weeks ago and I’m good with that.
But there are some, and we’ve got several that come here from outside Kenosha. They come from Illinois, they come from North of us. We’ve heard some people may have been rested from Green Bay and Milwaukee. They’re coming here they have no desire to protest. And I go back to the social media. One of the invitations looked like a party invitation, something you would get from your brother to come and see your niece’s graduation or her birthday. Come, wear your black outfits, wear black mask, bring your backpacks filled with Molotov cocktails, rocks and whatever else they may have in those backpacks. So that was the invitation that went out. And I think there’s something going on tonight. I’m not exactly sure what it was, but I go back to I think some people are thinking that I should deputize. We should have these people out there with guns under my authority.
What a scary, scary thought that would be in my world. And part of the problem with this group is they create confrontation. People walking around with guns. If I walk in uniform with a gun all of you probably wouldn’t be too intimidated by it because you’re used to officers having guns. But if I put out my wife with an AR15 or my brother with a shotgun or whatever it would be, walking through the streets, you guys would wonder what the heck is going on. That doesn’t help us.
We are set up. We’re going to do the curfew until Sunday right now, it can change. This is all fluid. We’re going to do the 7:00 PM curfew until Sunday. And it might continue afterwards and like get finished before. At this point it’s the interstate and East a 7:00 PM curfew. For those that this puts a hardship on I’m sorry. I really, really am. But it’s something we have to do. I’m going to turn it over to general [inaudible 00:21:44] right now and let him explain what from the national guard.
Paul Knapp: (21:53)
Thank you, sheriff. Hello, I’m major general Paul Knapp. I’m the adjutant general for the state of Wisconsin in charge of emergency management for the state. Number one, I want to express my condolences to the families of those involved in the tragic events of Kenosha. Next I want to talk about with the Wisconsin national guard and our role in supporting local authorities in Kenosha. On August 24th, governor Evers called the Wisconsin national guard to state active duty, to serve in a supporting role and assist local law enforcement in preserving public safety and the ability of individuals to exercise their first amendment rights to peacefully demonstrate. The Wisconsin national guard is fully engaged to serve and protect the citizens of Wisconsin on this very important mission. For the last two nights we’ve sent soldiers and airmen to support local law enforcement in the city of Kenosha and protecting lives and property.
Paul Knapp: (22:46)
We’re working diligently to provide additional assistance. And we’re committed to meeting all the requests that we receive from civil authorities. The Wisconsin National Guard responds to formal requests from County emergency managers. And these requests are submitted to the state emergency operations center. And then with the approval of the governor national guard resources can be committed to support civil authorities. The Wisconsin National Guard does not self deploy and always serves in a supporting role. We don’t choose on our own where or in what capacity to engage. However, these are fluid situations and we remain responsive to requests with the governor’s approval. When arriving on scene, the national guard plays a supporting role to the local law enforcement and who remains in charge of the mission. Guard personnel will remain on mission in Kenosha for as long as civil authorities require our support.
Paul Knapp: (23:43)
For operational security purposes the Wisconsin national guard will not discuss troop numbers as it relates to this mission. However, we are mobilizing additional forces in accordance with requests submitted by civil authorities from and through appropriate channels. At the direction of governor Evers we’re also working together via emergency management assistance compact, otherwise known as an EMAC request, to bring in additional resources from surrounding states to augment the military police forces as needed. The events in Kenosha are tragic and our thoughts and prayers to all those involved go out to all those involved. The members of the Wisconsin national guard are proud to serve the citizens of this great state. We stand ready to continue to support assistance to local authorities in times of crisis. The bottom line is we are your neighbors? We are your fellow residents, citizens of Wisconsin? We care about what happens here and throughout the state. And we are here to support the local authorities and bringing this to a peaceful conclusion. Thank you.
I’d like to introduce Kenosha police department chief Dan Miskinis.
Dan Miskinis: (25:04)
Good afternoon. You’ll notice that there’s a theme here and that there’s concern for the public. For those that have been injured by the Kenosha police department, those injured by civilians and the injuries inflicted upon the community itself by arsonists, Molotov cocktails, looting, all of the violence that goes on. So I want to be very clear with that. Everybody that stands before you is very committed to bringing the peaceful resolution to the issue at hand. We understand there are underlying issues that are driving this. We’re not going to fix them overnight, but the commitment is here from the leaders here to do something about it. So with that there’s a clear understanding that Kenosha is full of good people. Kenosha is not a community of violent people. The residents here are sad, they’re scared, they’re confused, but they’re not violent. Peaceful protests are welcome.
Dan Miskinis: (26:05)
It is a way, it has always been a way for the American public to speak their mind. We support that, I support that as an individual. We cannot support violence. When the line crosses from stating one’s opinions to taking violent actions and hurting people, damaging property and generally unruly behavior that must stop it. Not only is it bad for the community, it detracts from the message. The message here, the underlying message is about racial tension and police violence. Whether or not that’s a contributing factor, whether it’s here in Kenosha and across the nation, those are issues that need to be worked on and addressed. When things become violent that message is lost. It becomes all about violence. And that’s clearly not what Kenosha is about. The people here are good people and we’re here to protect them. We’ve called in necessary resources to do that.
Dan Miskinis: (27:02)
And we will continue to do that to stand strong to protect all people here in Kenosha. So by now everybody is aware that the Kenosha police department, one of our officers shot an individual here in the city of Kenosha, which is the for lack of a better term, the event that triggered the unrest. Thankfully Mr. Blake is alive and recovering from that incident. I don’t have a lot of great details about the incident because I wasn’t there. The state of Wisconsin has a statute and a procedure that removes the law enforcement agency involved in the use of force from the investigation. So you heard sheriff Beth speak about how they came in in a supporting role. They controlled the scene to control evidence, to protect the scene, to make sure that justice would be served in the end.
Dan Miskinis: (27:54)
No matter what that evidence showed that was his job. The Kenosha police department steps back from that and we become the people investigated rather than those doing the investigation. That is a recent change statutorily here in Wisconsin. One that I support and I believe it adds transparency and a greater oversight by some. Unfortunately what that also brings is what you see before you today, a chief who doesn’t have details about the incident. So the Wisconsin department of justice division of criminal investigation or DCI is the investigating agency here. They are the ones who are collecting evidence, interviewing all those involved, whether it’s the officer, Mr. Blake, witnesses, any host of things. They’re the ones doing the investigation to give it that outside view that outside demand for justice. So I support that and we will continue to participate in that cooperation. They will continue doing what they need to do, but again I don’t have details to share because of the way the system works.
Dan Miskinis: (29:07)
The support process here with DCI for us is very limited. The Sheriff’s department controls the scene. I as the chief have policies, we have procedures to cooperate and that is what we do. We’re not hiding behind what has been referred to by some across this nation over the years as the blue line of silence, doesn’t exist. We don’t want bad cops, there aren’t cops here who want to go out and hurt people, right? So I understand that there’s a difference of view and there may be some underlying political issues. That again as I said before, not going to be solved. I asked for everybody in this room, everybody listening and the citizens here that are affected to allow for time for that process to play out. The decisions in that case will be made based upon evidence collected by an outside agency, presented to somebody else to make that decision. The Kenosha police department will not come out and make a rule-
Dan Miskinis: (30:03)
… somebody else to make that decision, the Kenosha Police Department will not come out and make a ruling one way or the other in that. So that process is in place. I believe it’s fair and I believe it’s a good thing for not only the citizens of Kenosha, but those across this nation. Since the incident, there have been peaceful protests and prayer vigils. There’s a lot of good people out there. And there are a lot of good people who want to draw attention to underlying issues, to draw attention for the need for change, and to draw attention to the need for the potential for police reform, if necessary. And I bring that last statement into effect and that I think most people I’ve talked to believe that there may be the need for reform, but they’re not racing to judge yet. They will bring up ideas.
Dan Miskinis: (30:49)
And much of it is of what we’ve talked about or heard from citizens are in place. They do exist. There’s just perhaps not enough communication and today’s meeting is somewhat about that. So you have my commitment that we will try to do our best to share more information. It’s just difficult when you’re removed from the process to do that. So I ask again, as we move forward, today’s theme is about progress toward restoring healing and having the community comes out of the stronger.
Dan Miskinis: (31:23)
So over the last few days, Kenosha has also experienced, unfortunately, looting, arson, Molotov cocktails, violence, persons injured. In addition, last night, in a situation that began peaceful and turned somewhat unruly, and the sheriffs spoke about things that were thrown, hammers, bricks, violence toward law enforcement and toward the National Guard who assisting a controlling the scene here and protecting those who were rightfully speaking their mind. Persons who were out after the curfew became engaged in some type of disturbance and persons were shot.
Dan Miskinis: (32:05)
Everybody involved was out after the curfew. I’m not going to make a great deal of that. But the point is the curfew’s in place to protect. Had persons not been out involved in violation of that, perhaps the situation that unfolded would not have happened. So last night, a 17 year old individual from Antioch, Illinois, was involved in the use of firearms to resolve whatever conflict was in place. The result of it was two people are dead. This is not a police action. This is not the action I believe that those who set out to do protests, it is the persons who were involved after the legal time, involved in illegal activity that brought violence to this community. So last night, unfortunately, a 26 year old Silver Lake resident and a 36 year old Kenosha resident lost their lives to the senseless violence.
Dan Miskinis: (33:03)
A 26 year old West Ellis resident was also injured, but it’s expected to survive. This case is still very active. We have investigators out now still following leads and doing what we can to bring about the closure to that. The names of those involved are not being released at this time. As I said, it’s a very active investigation. And we have a person in custody out of state, I’ll be working to bring that person to Wisconsin to face appropriate charges. What I can’t tell you is what led to the disturbance that led to the use of deadly force by this person. And if both deaths are related to the same person, I don’t know that at this point. Investigation, as I said, is very new. So we will do what we can to get more information out as it becomes available, it just simply isn’t available at this time.
Dan Miskinis: (33:56)
So the Kenosha Police Department is working in concert with outside agencies to address the Kenosha County resident’s concerns. But we are currently the focal point for much greater issues. We will do our part to try to be an example of how we can resolve those. And I will take complete ownership of a lack of media releases. So in the last five days, I have probably slept three hours. The demands that are placed upon the Police Department, the police chief and all of its resources sometimes make this role take a back seat, where I’m concerned with the protection of citizens, rather than providing information. I will do a better job with that. So with that, I ask for your support in healing here and across this nation, and we all together can and should make a difference. Thank you.
Like to introduce to our County Executive Jim Kreuser.
Jim Kreuser: (34:56)
Thank you, Mr. Sheriff.
Jim Kreuser: (34:59)
As Kenosha County Executive, I am saddened by these events that led have led to this situation we find ourselves in at this moment in time. But our County is strong, it’s resilient, and we will get through this and come out stronger. I’ve always said that Kenosha County is like the biggest small town in Wisconsin. We love and care for each other, but we failed in that regard. An area that I work and pledge, along with the mayor, of bringing people together, of all facets of our community so we can listen, hear, learn, and move forward.
Jim Kreuser: (35:43)
My heart breaks for all of those who have been injured or killed. And the people and the businesses that have been impacted throughout our community and our County. We are with you. We support you. I want to thank many people, hundreds of people, who came out and cleaned up every morning after destruction has taken place. They boarded up businesses, cleaned up the sidewalks. They’re the silent heroes out there just helping Kenosha.
Jim Kreuser: (36:24)
Jim Kreuser: (36:25)
… arrested and prosecuted. This is not, or will not, be tolerated. I want to thank the National Guard, Major General Paul Knapp, for the ongoing significant support and the many state and federal agencies that are all making up a robust law enforcement presence here and that support our community. I’m seeing these gentlemen work behind the scenes. There’s not a hitch in the giddy-up. State, Federal government, local governments, every agency involved that’s already been named at this press conference. It’s proud to see that team pulling together to move forward.
Jim Kreuser: (37:02)
I want to urge everyone here and the good people at Kenosha to stay home after curfew and to keep the demonstrations peaceful. Let’s show the world we are a united community that I know we can be, and we’d be better in the future. And God bless all of us from those who have been affected by this incident and situation. Thank you.
Now, some of you I know very well. Some of you have probably texted me through the night when I was trying to get my two hours sleep, and I know that we didn’t answer all your questions and I’m going to let you know that there’s no way we can answer everyone’s questions in here, but we will give you like 15 minutes or so to answer the ones that we can. And just so you know, don’t feel like you have to get your answers right now. We are going to do something like this every single day and I believe it’s going to be at one o’clock every single day until this whole thing passes. So we can get information out to the people of Kenosha, people of the state of Wisconsin, and truly this country of what’s going on here in Kenosha.
Speaker 1: (38:16)
I appreciate it. This is either a question for you or the police chief here, have either of you seen the video of the shooter last night?
I saw a video of the person that someone told me was, yes.
Speaker 1: (38:29)
So he shoots people in the video, he opens fire and then he walks away and walks toward officers. He appears to have his hands up in the air wanting to turn himself in, but then he later flees. Whoever was there, officers, sheriffs, why did they let him go? How was he able to go?
I wasn’t there, but just hearing what you just said. I have a pretty good idea. You got to understand at that point there’s, and I don’t know what was going on right then, I don’t have a clue, but there is screaming. There’s hollering. There’s chanting. There’s a squad car running. There’s MRAPs and Bear Cats idling, and I don’t know where it was. I don’t know. If the officer happened to be in the car, the radio traffic was nonstop and there were people running all over the place. So absolutely. And again, I don’t know what was going through the officers that was there. I don’t know if it was one of ours or someone else’s. So I can’t tell you for sure, but knowing what you just said, I can picture all kinds of reasons I wasn’t focusing on someone doing that.
I was maybe focusing on whatever’s right here. And when you get, I’ve been in shooting, someone can’t hear me. I’m sorry about that. When someone, I’ve been in a shooting before and in situations that are high stress. You have such an incredible tunnel vision, you have no idea what’s outside right here if you’re looking right here. Again, I’m not making an excuse. I’m just telling you from personal experience, what could have done that.
Speaker 2: (40:08)
Sheriff, was he part of a militia?
I don’t know. I don’t even know the man’s name.
Wait, we’re going to try to answer your questions. So just relax.
Speaker 3: (40:18)
Do you feel that the presence of militias last night contributed to the increased tension there?
Hmm. So you want my personal opinion? To some people it may have been calming. To me, it’s not.
Speaker 4: (40:38)
Sheriff, you did not deputize them, you made that very clear, but there are videos of Sheriff’s deputies in those Bear Cats, tossing waters out of the hatch of that, encouraging their presence here. Why did that happen?
Our deputies would toss a water to anybody. If someone came walking past, I don’t care if they’re a protestor, who they are, they would pass water. We have cases. People have come to our command post into this building. We have pallets of water and Gatorade.
Speaker 4: (41:03)
But if you encouraged that, why-
You’re asking me to tell you what one person did. I can’t tell you that.
Speaker 5: (41:10)
Sheriff, the president has said in the last hour or two, that he won’t tolerate lawlessness on American streets. He said he’d spoken to the governor and is sending additional law enforcement, including the National Guard. I wonder, do you welcome that? Or do you worry that their presence here may escalate tensions as it did in Portland?
National Guard is here. We have agents from the federal government here now.
Speaker 5: (41:34)
He’s sending more, clearly.
If it brings peace to the people of Kenosha and the good people of Kenosha want them here, they want them here. I’ve had conversations with hundreds, emails, and I agree. We’ll take whatever resources we can get to take care of this. There are people here from Kenosha that are part of this and a lot of people that come in and really do the damage are from outside Kenosha.
Speaker 6: (42:02)
You said that last night you think it was linked to the group that wanted you to deputize them. Could you clarify what that means?
I don’t know that for sure. I just said that a group wanted me to deputize people that were carrying guns. This person is carrying a gun. What I said is he could have been part of it.
[crosstalk 00:42:20] I don’t know.
Speaker 7: (42:21)
Do you have any idea why the young man came from Illinois to Kenosha last night?
I don’t even know the man’s name.
Speaker 8: (42:25)
Antioch is naming him, why aren’t you guys naming him here? Because Antioch is actually giving us his name.
Because he’s in custody in Illinois. He’s not in custody here.
Speaker 9: (42:36)
Sheriff, can you tell us, will this 17 year old be charged as an adult?
Oh, I wish the district attorney was here, but he had to go to another meeting. The part of the shootings last night. We are not investigating that. That is the combination of the city Police Department and also the FBI.
Speaker 10: (42:50)
Which federal agents are here?
I don’t even know that for sure. I can tell you the agencies like the ATF, the FBI and US Marshals. Here, someone wants to talk to the Chief. I’ll turn it over.
Speaker 11: (43:02)
What was your reaction to the video of the cell phone video of Jacob Blake being shot by one of your officers?
Dan Miskinis: (43:07)
I’m not going to address that because there’s one snippet of a very large situation and much as what’s happened across this nation for a long period of time, it’s focused on what you see and this much of an incident it’s unfair to everybody involved, whether you’re the person using force or the person being arrested, that the picture isn’t painted.
Speaker 12: (43:30)
Chief, how many officers are on leave? Is it just the shooter? Is it just the one officer?
Dan Miskinis: (43:30)
The three officers who were at the scene are all on administrative leave.
Speaker 13: (43:35)
Chief, eyewitnesses said that your officers asked Mr. Blake to drop a knife. Was any weapon recovered at the scene?
Dan Miskinis: (43:41)
I can’t answer questions about the investigation. As I said before, I wasn’t there. I’m not privy to the reports.
Speaker 14: (43:50)
We’ve talked about misinformation throughout this conference, how it’s kind of contributed to what’s happening. Why are we only having this conference now? I understand you said that you guys were inundated, but if misinformation contributed to a lot of what happened, why did not the Police Department, the Sheriff’s department, come out ahead of time to at least discuss and explain what the procedures work as part of this investigation?
Dan Miskinis: (44:13)
Well, you’re assuming that it really did drive things. We have no way of knowing that the misinformation had anything to do with anything. We had information that was vetted and became true. We had information that we disproved. So I can’t say that it had any bearing on the outcome. The reality of it is in all situations, there’s two sides of the story often. And sometimes there’s misinformation, sometimes purposefully, sometimes not.
Speaker 15: (44:38)
Chief, what’s your messaging been to your officers in terms of how to approach the protestors, how to approach the protests?
Dan Miskinis: (44:44)
The message from myself, and I think everybody up here, has been to allow protest. To speak their mind. But the law is the law as far as protecting people. And that’s where the line is. So the message is to remain calm, to let people exercise their constitutional right, even when they’re the source of the disdain.
Dan Miskinis: (45:03)
… Constitutional right, even when they’re the source of the disdain.
Speaker 16: (45:04)
Chief, the messaging for the last two nights has been that you aren’t going to sit back, that you aren’t going to allow the city to burn, violence to happen, but it has happened the last two nights. Why should people of Kenosha believe you?
Dan Miskinis: (45:15)
Well, I hope that they are intelligent enough to understand that there are so many things we can do. There are only so many resources available regardless. So whether I’m a person of the media with too many requests, a police chief, or a public works employee, you can only get so much done with the resources at hand.
Speaker 17: (45:33)
Chief, how many shooters and how many people were hurt last night in the shooting?
Dan Miskinis: (45:40)
Two persons were killed. One person was injured.
Speaker 17: (45:42)
Dan Miskinis: (45:43)
We do not know how many people-
Speaker 17: (45:44)
Do we know who they are, the shooters themselves?
Dan Miskinis: (45:47)
The 17 -year-old that was in custody.
Speaker 17: (45:49)
Are they part of a group?
Dan Miskinis: (45:51)
I don’t know that. The investigation is very new where I said we don’t have details and I will not be releasing details of it.
Speaker 18: (45:56)
Do you know about these armed civilians? I mean, did you know about them before last night? And what is your knowledge of these people?
Dan Miskinis: (46:04)
Across this nation, there have been armed civilians who have come out to exercise their constitutional right and to potentially protect property. So if I’m aware that groups exist, yes. They weren’t invited to come.
Speaker 17: (46:17)
Chief, there’s video of officers thanking them after curfew for being outside open carrying. The second part of that is don’t you have to be 18 years old to open carry in Wisconsin?
Dan Miskinis: (46:26)
Speaker 17: (46:28)
And then your reaction to officers thanking those armed individuals protecting property after curfew.
Dan Miskinis: (46:34)
I don’t have any information that that existed, so I can’t address the issue.
Speaker 19: (46:37)
What would you tell the family of Jacob Blake, sir?
Speaker 20: (46:41)
[crosstalk 00:46:41] or the protests, a message to them. Do you want to say something? Do you want them here? Do you not want them here?
Dan Miskinis: (46:46)
Everybody else was talking.
Speaker 20: (46:47)
The militia members who are here. The ones who are armed-
Dan Miskinis: (46:50)
I can tell you that I don’t want violence regardless of which side of any issue you’re on. So showing up with firearms doesn’t do us any good. But keep in mind that the term militia is used, I’ve got no proof that it has any organization to it. It may be just simply armed citizens. I don’t know. So it’s no different than those on the protestors side who are walking around armed and those who are counter-protesters or those who are just witnessing to be armed. So I’m not going to address any more issues relative to anything.
Speaker 16: (47:25)
But they feel that law enforcement is outnumbered and that’s why they’re here is to try and give you guys reinforcement.
Dan Miskinis: (47:25)
I just said I’m not going to answer any more questions.
Speaker 16: (47:26)
Do you want them to give you guys backup, so to speak?
Dan Miskinis: (47:29)
We’re done talking about that.
Speaker 19: (47:30)
[crosstalk 00:47:30] understand the sensitivity with the officers involved in the initial shooting, the three who are on leave. Are there any efforts, protocol to release their names at some point or not release them? And what is the process right now involved in full?
Dan Miskinis: (47:48)
That’s a very good question. So as I alluded to before, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is in charge of the investigation. I’ve had contact with DCI to talk about releasing details because some of the questions you’re asking for, only they can give you. And I’m assured that soon some of those answers will be provided, including more details about those involved.
Speaker 23: (48:12)
Chief, you talked about underlying issues.
Speaker 21: (48:13)
I’m going to bring up General Knapp again and let him, if you have any questions for the National Guard.
Paul Knapp: (48:19)
Great. Thanks, Sheriff. I just wanted to clarify one of the earlier questions before we get into some other ones. In terms of additional National Guard support from outside of the state, I just want to let you know how that works. So I’ve been in discussions with other states in the National Guard Bureau for the last couple days since this event kicked off to discuss both equipment and personnel that we may need assistance with going forward. So when we talk about additional National Guard guardsmen coming into the state, the way that works is it’s a governor to governor agreement and those soldiers or airmen would come into the state under my command as the adjutant general. So just for clarity on how that works.
Paul Knapp: (48:57)
And then also for additional federal resources coming in, the way that works as well, I talked about the EMAC request in my statement. And then those additional federal resources would also come in under the leadership of the already existing federal resources and leadership that’s here in the state of Wisconsin. Does that make sense?
Speaker 22: (49:16)
Are you worried about the president tweeting about it as if it’s his decision that it will escalate tensions here?
Paul Knapp: (49:22)
No, ma’am. I don’t worry about the president’s tweets.
Speaker 23: (49:24)
Clarify that the wires crossed issue again?
Speaker 21: (49:27)
It’s my fault.
Speaker 23: (49:29)
Right. Can you just clarify that? What happened exactly and-
Speaker 21: (49:35)
Sure. Basically, I thought someone from the city requested, the city thought I requested. My fault.
Paul Knapp: (49:40)
Yeah. We were in discussions that entire time. And I appreciate the sheriff owning that, but at the same time, we were preparing at the same time.
Speaker 23: (49:52)
So when was the actual request put in?
Paul Knapp: (49:55)
I think it was sometime during the morning of Monday. Right. 3:00 AM on Monday. So it wouldn’t have, either way, whether it was 3:00 AM or 1:00 AM or midnight, we still had the requested support there on Monday night.
Speaker 23: (50:08)
When it was needed?
Paul Knapp: (50:09)
Speaker 16: (50:09)
General Knapp, I know that your mission is fluid-
Paul Knapp: (50:12)
For sure. Absolutely.
Speaker 16: (50:14)
There are some folks who say you’re saying that your … What are you doing here? What has the [inaudible 00:50:20] been in the last-
Paul Knapp: (50:21)
Well, as I mentioned, our number one role is in a support role for local law enforcement and civil authorities. One of the things that I tell my soldiers and airmen before they go out on a mission like this, and we have unfortunately had other missions earlier in the summer, is our number one priority is life safety. We’re your neighbors. Wisconsin National Guard members are, they have jobs here in the communities, they’re not normal law enforcement folks that have law enforcement jobs that can get in their law enforcement vehicle and drive to wherever they’re needed. So we have to, when we call those guard members, there’s a process involved in getting them to leave their homes, leave their families, make arrangements for all of those things, get to their armories, get their equipment. We also make sure that all their training is current and accurate and up to speed. So any of the training that they may not have. And COVID has really been difficult because it has delayed a lot of the training, not just for the National Guard, for all agencies across Wisconsin and the United States.
Paul Knapp: (51:28)
So those are things that we’re very careful about. We don’t want to just call someone and throw them out on the line in a civil defense or civil support role.
Speaker 16: (51:38)
Two people died last night. What will it take for your role to expand here?
Paul Knapp: (51:44)
Well, again, my condolences go out and it was a tragedy that happened last night. And our role is expanding based on the requests from the civil authorities as we go forward. You’ll see more National Guardsmen, both from the inside of Wisconsin, and we’re in discussions with other states to have an expanded number of Guard members in support of local authorities.
Speaker 17: (52:06)
Can you say how many?
Paul Knapp: (52:07)
No. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t talk about specific numbers. It’s just not a good idea.
Speaker 17: (52:12)
Can you please clarify? So we had heard that 750 guardsmen were requested by local law enforcement and that Governor Evers hadn’t sent them. So is that not the case?
Paul Knapp: (52:22)
Well, I’m going to say no, that’s not the case. So I’m not sure where that is. I think everyone up here on the stage is very clear that from the very beginning of this crisis, one of the most important things is we’ve had amazing communication. I was woken up in the middle of the night on, I can’t remember exactly the time, between 1:00 and 2:00 AM in order to start facilitating that request. And from that moment, we’ve been coordinating our response with them and making sure that it’s a measured response and it’s also the measured and appropriate and meeting their needs. And I feel like we’ve done that to this point and we will continue to do that as the needs change in this dynamic environment.
Speaker 23: (52:59)
Chief, you talked about underlying-
Speaker 21: (53:00)
I don’t mean to cut you guys off, but I know that this would go for hours and hours and hours. We’re going to be back again, shoot for tomorrow at 1:00. And we’ll let you know for sure. Mayor, you [inaudible 00:08:11]. Okay, go ahead.
If you don’t mind.
Speaker 21: (53:12)
Just very quickly. Two things. One someone asked about, do we want militias in the town in the evenings when the police are doing what they need to be doing and the Sheriff’s doing what they need to do? No, I don’t need more guns on the street in the community when we’re trying to make sure that we keep people safe. Law enforcement is trained. They’re the ones who are responsible, they’re the ones we have faith that will do their jobs and make sure it gets done. And it would be beneficial and helpful to everyone to realize that. That is why the curfew is there. The curfew is to keep everyone off the streets so that the law enforcement is able to work with and deal with those individuals who are there. And so I just wanted to clarify that question as to what’s going on.
And then the last thing I’m going to touch on is, and if you want to talk to me afterwards, I’ll talk to you. The last thing I want to touch on though is the issue with the troops or the guard coming in, National Guard coming in. The General’s wake up call probably happened because of my call at about 1:30 in the morning as we were trying to find out, making sure what was going on and how we were doing it. The state has been working with us through this whole thing. The problem we all have is the same. How many people do you ask for in a situation like this? No one knows. This is definitely new to us also. So the requests were made, the state was willing to implement, they put it in, we got back to them and said, “It’s not enough.” They have been upping the numbers every day that we have asked for help. So I think it’s important for everyone to understand that.
I also want to make one other thing clear. And that is when you look at the joint ventures of all the different units out there, police, sheriff, all of the people coming from around the state to help us, it is appreciated and they’ve done a wonderful job. Is it perfect? No. Are we devastated by what happened in our uptown area? Absolutely. There are people who no longer have businesses. Those are things that have to stop.
Speaker 24: (55:13)
How will you protect the small businesses?
We’re going to do everything we can to protect them on the basis of what law enforcement tells me to do. I’m going to-
Speaker 24: (55:20)
Will you use National Guard to protect the small businesses?
I have the National Guard here along with the police and sheriff’s department to work on making sure we cover areas and keep people safe and that we’re able to move and protect all the businesses as possible.
Speaker 25: (55:33)
Mayor, do you think the lack of information from the Department of Justice is fueling this violence?
I think the lack of information, and I’m going to take some of the responsibility for that, I’m not good at this. And I’ve been the mayor for a long, long time. But this isn’t what I’m used to. So in all honesty, when we looked at things, we looked at it and said, “Okay, what do we need to do? Let’s take care of it. Chief, sheriff, I count on you. You guys know what to do. I have to do certain things. I need to call a curfew. I need to call and make the request for the Guard.” We did those things. And at that point in time, we just move along, try to make it work, and do the best we can. And that’s what’s happened.
And I’m going to leave it at this last thing that I think that everyone forgets that these are things that are different for us. Kenosha has been a wonderful community and a lot of good things happening in it. This is different. And we’re going to learn from it. But hopefully the learning isn’t necessarily the destruction and the death that occurs, but how we rebuild the community and how we create those relationships to make it a better place.
Speaker 21: (56:40)
Thank you, everyone. We’ll see you tomorrow for whoever’s interested.
Speaker 22: (56:43)
What’s your message to Mr. Blake’s family? What’s your message to Mr-
I will be talking to them this way.
Speaker 22: (56:49)
What’s your message to them today, though?
I will be talking with them personally.
Speaker 22: (56:54)
Do you have a message for them?
Yes, I have a great deal of concern for them, and sorrow for what has occurred.
Speaker 25: (56:58)
Are you frustrated the Department of Justice has released nothing on the Jacob Blake shooting?
There is nothing I can do about that. And to be very honest with you, the best thing that can happen on this situation is allow the Department of Justice, which is an independent entity, to do their job.
Speaker 24: (57:12)
Mr. Mayor? Can you tell us anything, any details about the arrests?
No. No, I cannot.
Speaker 17: (57:18)
Do you know if there was a weapon found?
Speaker 21: (57:21)