Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis appeared to shift blame to protesters themselves for being shot during protests surrounding the shooting of Jacob Blake, noting that had everyone been following the mandated 8 p.m. curfew, perhaps the shooting that resulted in two being killed may not have happened.
“Last night, in a situation that began peaceful and turned somewhat unruly…Persons who were out after the curfew became engaged in some type of disturbance, and persons were shot. Everybody involved was out after the curfew,” Miskinis said at Wednesday’s press conference, according to Slate. “I’m not going to make a great deal of that, but the point is the curfew is in place to protect. Had persons not been out involved in violation of that, perhaps the situation that unfolded would not have happened.”
During the press conference, Miskinis did not name the victims who were killed, or the suspect, who has been identified as 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch, Illinois.
However, according to the police chief, the 17-year-old accused of shooting at the protesters “was involved in the use of firearms to resolve whatever conflict that was in place.”
Miskinis’s comments drew swift backlash on social media, with users saying the cop was victim-blaming and distancing the teen from his alleged crimes.
Leaders from various civil rights groups issued a scathing statement, speaking out against Miskinis’s statements and demanding his removal.
“The fact that Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis blamed protestors for the killings is another example of the racially disparate treatment that Americans across the country have been protesting against since May and for decades before,” the group of leaders wrote in their statement. “We call on Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul to immediately investigate and prosecute these killings, the shooting of Mr. Blake, and the increasingly pervasive issue of armed White militia members confronting and attacking protesters demanding police accountability. They must also demand the immediate removal of Chief Miskinis.”
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network; Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP; Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League; and other civil rights leaders all signed on to the statement.
Rittenhouse is currently facing first-degree intentional homicide charges and is awaiting extradition to Wisconsin.