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Hundreds gather to demand DOJ take action in shooting of Jacob Blake

Photo by Fatoumata Ceesay

Hundreds of protestors marched in Madison Saturday afternoon to demand justice for Jacob Blake, nearly one week after he was shot in Kenosha by a white police officer.

Photos by Fatoumata Ceesay

Protestors marched from UW-Madison’s Library Mall to the Wisconsin Department of Justice building. The DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation is currently investigating Blake’s shooting. 

Madison’s march lined up with a march in Kenosha that saw nearly 2,000 people, including the family of Jacob Blake. Organizer Naomi Hollard felt the importance of having the Madison march since the DOJ office was in Madison.

“Today is a big day in Kenosha,” she said. “One thing they put in their demand was to ask the Department of Justice to fire, arrest and charge the officer that shot Jake Blake. The [DOJ] is here in Madison. I think we in Madison [have] an extremely important responsibility of holding the Department of Justice and specifically, the Department of Criminal Investigations accountable to leading a just process.”

At the DOJ building, protestors were divided into two groups, one group calling the DOJ and another calling the Division of Criminal Investigations. Both groups were demanding the officer who shot Blake, Rusten Sheskey, be arrested.

People wrote messages outside the building, demanding justice and change, and laid down rows of empty shoes to highlight the Black lives lost to police.

“The recent shooting in Kenosha deeply upset me because systemic racism and police brutality is rampant in our country and is also apparently here in a city that’s supposed to be liberal and progressive,” Ayomi Wolff, a UW-Madison freshman, said. Wolff had been protesting in her hometown Washington, D.C., and was encouraged to come to this protest to continue her actions in her new home.

 “I came out here to show my support for those who are fighting for justice,” she said.

For Hollard, pressuring the DOJ was important because the current administrator of the Department of Criminal Investigation is Brian O’Keefe, a former police officer who was appointed in 2017.

“In his free time, he is on a committee to help increase the relationship between military and police,” she said. “And [his team] is in charge of leading the independent investigation of the shooting of Jacob Blake. So we were coming out here today because we know that as [Madisonians] we have a responsibility to make sure Wisconsin is upheld to justice and justice for all for Black and brown lives.”

It is currently unclear what connection O’Keefe has to the case outside of his role as administrator. The FBI, Wisconsin State Patrol and the Kenosha Co. Sheriff’s Office are assisting with the investigation. The officers involved have all been placed on administrative leave.