National ACLU alongside its state chapter in Wisconsin on Thursday called for the local sheriff, chief of police, and mayor of Kenosha to immediately tender their resignations, arguing the top law enforcement officials and city leader have failed in their duties in terms of the killing by shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday and their handling of subsequent protests in the city that culminated in the killing of two Black Lives Matter demonstrators allegedly carried out by an underage militia-style vigilante armed with an AR-15 assault weapon overnight Tuesday.
In what the ACLU said was done in consultation with "organizers on the ground," the civil liberties group condemned Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis and Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth for their handling of events in recent days—both in word and deed—and urged Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian to have the pair removed if they do not step down from their posts voluntarily. At the same time, the ACLU said Antaramian should also resign.
The protesters who were killed—whose identities have not yet been confirmed—were allegedly shot by 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who is reported to have travelled from neighboring Illinois in order to act attend armed counter-protests in Kenosha.
While by the largest national organization to do so, the ACLU is far from the first voice calling for resignations in Kenosha over recent days:
I'm starting to think that every single person in Kenosha's law enforcement community should resign. https://t.co/dvMW8TGXAV
— Minh Ngo (@minhtngo) August 27, 2020
According to a statement by the ACLU and ACLU of Wisconsin:
Sheriff David Beth'sdeputies not only fraternized with white supremacist counter-protesters on Tuesday, but allowed the shooter to leave as people yelled that he was the shooter. The sheriff excused this by saying his deputies may not have paid attention to the gunman because there were many distractions, including "screaming” and "hollering," people running, police vehicles idling, "nonstop radio traffic," and that "in situations that are high stress, you have such an incredible tunnel vision." Sheriff Beth was also criticized last year after calling for five people of color who had been arrested for shoplifting to be put into warehouses "where we put these people who have been deemed to be no longer an asset."
During the Kenosha Police Department's first press conference in response to the Blake shooting and subsequent murders committed at protests, Police Chief Daniel Miskinis blamed the unidentified victims in Tuesday night's shooting for their own deaths, saying the violence was the result of the "persons" involved violating curfew.
Chris Ott, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, said resignations were the best course of action.
"The ACLU strongly condemns Sheriff Beth and Police Chief Miskinis' response to both the attempted murder of Jacob Blake and the protests demanding justice for him," said Ott. "Their actions uphold and defend white supremacy, while demonizing people who were murdered for exercising their first amendment rights and speaking out against police violence. The only way to rectify these actions is for both Sheriff Beth and Police Chief Daniel Miskinis to immediately tender their resignations."
Are you serious? Chief Miskinis how can u stand up and say this? You’re apart of the problem. Point, blank, period. https://t.co/ehcE8zBB8l
— Christian Kirksey (@Kirko58) August 27, 2020
In their statement, the ACLU provided the following contact information for those wishing to express their support for the call that Beth and Miskini resign or be removed:
To call for Kenosha County David Beth's resignation, contact Gov. Tony Evers' Office at (608) 266-1212.
To call for Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis' resignation, contact the
Kenosha Police and Fire Commission at (262)-653-4135 or fill out a citizen complaint form at: https://www.kenosha.org/images/police_and_fire_commisson/COMPLAINT_FORM.pdf.