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Police Shooting Sparks Protests In Wisconsin


More protests are expected tonight in Kenosha, south of Milwaukee. Yesterday police there shot a Black man named Jacob Blake. Video shows an officer shooting Blake in the back multiple times at close range as he was entering a car. Wisconsin's governor has called a special session of the state legislature next week to pass police reform, and he's also sending the National Guard to Kenosha. LaToya Dennis of member station WUWM joins us now from Kenosha.

Thanks for being here.

LATOYA DENNIS, BYLINE: Thank you for having me.

SHAPIRO: First, give us some more details about what happened yesterday with this shooting.

DENNIS: You know, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. But what can be seen on a video that was shot from across the street was basically Blake was there to break up an argument, we've been told by bystanders. On the video, it shows him - walking around his vehicle, opening the driver's side door and attempting to enter the vehicle is what it looked like when a police officer grabbed the back of his shirt and then begins to fire. And that officer or multiple officers - it's unclear at this point - fired about seven rounds.

SHAPIRO: And is it true that his children were in the vehicle at the time?

DENNIS: Yeah, it's absolutely true. So at this point, the family has obtained civil rights attorney Ben Crump, and Crump has said that three of Blake's children were in the vehicle at the time. And, you know, I was talking to James Hall, who is president and CEO of the Urban League of Kenosha and Racine today. And he basically said that those young men seeing what happened to their dad - they're going to be traumatized. And it's generational trauma.

JAMES HALL: They're going to be forever terrified or in trauma when they see police officers or when they see somebody that doesn't look like them. They're going to be forever terrified. Just imagine, when they go back to school, how terrified they're going to be with individuals that don't look like them.

DENNIS: And, you know, Hall said that sort of trauma can continue on down the line to their children. And he says that the problem is when they go back to school, if they're terrified of their teachers and whomever else, they may not do well in school. And then you also continue this cycle of poverty that could - that we could see.

SHAPIRO: And tell us more about the protests that have been happening since this shooting.

DENNIS: Yeah. You know, last night there were a number of fires that were set. There are buildings damaged. The police administration building and the county courthouse were damaged today, and they were not opened. And that's a concern for tonight, which is why the National Guard has been called in. And there has been a curfew set, which goes into effect at 8 p.m. and is supposed to be in effect until 7 a.m. The mayor of Kenosha, John Antaramian, has basically said that as police officers will be held accountable, so will the people who are out damaging things.

SHAPIRO: And tell us more just briefly about the official response to this incident.

DENNIS: Yeah. The official response has come from Gov. Tony Evers, who has basically said that he stands with protesters and people who have been seeking justice for Black Lives Matter, though we do need to wait on all the details of this case. And the case is being investigated by the Department of Justice here in Wisconsin.

SHAPIRO: That is LaToya Dennis of member station WUWM there in Kenosha, Wis.

Thank you very much.

DENNIS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF TORO Y MOI'S "DIVINA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

LaToya Dennis joined WUWM in October 2006 as a reporter / producer. LaToya began her career in public radio as a part-time reporter for WKAR AM/FM in East Lansing, Michigan. She worked as general assignment reporter for WKAR for one and a half years while working toward a master's degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. While at WKAR, she covered General Motors plant closings, city and state government, and education among other critical subjects.