KENOSHA ⏤ On Tuesday morning, the Police and Fire Commission heard 25 minutes of calls to fire Police Chief Daniel Miskinis.
The calls for Miskinis’ resignation ⏤ at least 3,500 according to the clerk ⏤ came during the citizens’ comments portion of the meeting.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a city official read comments submitted electronically into the record.
Letters ranged in scope from simply calling for Miskinis’ resignation, to also calling for the arrest and firing of KPD officer Rusten Sheskey.
Sheskey shot seven bullets into the back of Jacob Blake in Kenosha on Aug. 23. The shooting led to an explosion of unrest both in Kenosha and nationwide.
A determination has not yet been made on whether criminal charges will be filed against Sheskey.
The first comment read into the record set the tone for the multitude to follow.
“The Kenosha Police Department’s decision to resort to violence against an unarmed man for not conforming to some idealized form of compliance is unacceptable and inexcusable,” the clerk read into the record. “At no point did the police try to de-escalate the situation. Jacob is in the ICU and his three children are being subjected to a traumatic experience because of these officers’ brutality.”
“We need to charge these officers and to move away from policing as an institution,” the commenter wrote. “The police have proved nationwide again and again that they do not prioritize the lives of their subjects. And they disproportionately impact violence upon people of color.
“It is high time we fund alternative solutions to public safety instead. I ask that the police officers be named and held accountable for their actions in criminal court.”
Alternative public safety solutions
The commission should downsize the police department’s budget, and use the difference towards social programs and services, the commenter said.
“I would also ask that the police department’s budget be further downsized to de-militarize the police force, and that the money be used instead for community service and alternate crisis interventions, especially for the homeless and mentally ill. Doing so would make living in Kenosha safer for minorities who suffer from the brute of police brutality.
“The lack of police accountability is a stain on the group that alleges to serve the people and uphold the law. There’s no justice in the police, and they are exempt from the law.”
‘A bad police officer’
Kenosha resident Joel Trudell asked the commission bluntly when Sheskey would be terminated for his actions in the Blake case.
Over the last few months, commenter Diana Delbecchi has had a loss of words when watching things unfold in Kenosha.
“My comments to you today feel ridiculous to even put in writing, as if it’s something novel,” she wrote. “It is not novel. It is ridiculous for our community to demand the dismissal of Police Chief Miskinis from the department. The shooting of Jacob Blake was egregious abuse of power and one that cannot be solely blamed to the individual officer responsible.
“Rather, it is a symptom of a corrupt police force led by Chief Miskinis. The community deserves better. Vote him out and give the police department a chance to build back up community trust.”
‘Get him out’
While many comments went into the history of the Blake case, some had a simple message: Get Miskinis out.
“He’s got to go,” said one commenter.
Another person, William Smith, didn’t mention Miskinis by name. However, the meaning of his comment was clear.
“Dear Police and Fire Commission, get him out of here,” he wrote.
During the comment period, a number of people gave the exact same comment to the commission in writing. In fact, the clerk assisting the commission read the same exact words no less than nine times Tuesday morning.
“I am appalled that Police Chief Miskinis absolved his officers for the shooting of Jacob Blake,” wrote Riley Canada II, one of the people who gave the same exact comment.
“Chief Miskinis has even blamed protesters for being murdered by a white supremacist. His actions prove that he is incapable of holding the position of the chief of police, and I am calling for the Police and Fire Commission to immediately fire him. The Police and Fire Commission must join the rallying call to hold bad actors accountable for the violence they inflict on Black people.”
3,500 comments submitted from ‘allsend’
According to the clerk assisting the commission Tuesday, the city had received approximately 3,500 complaints prior to the meeting.
“As of this morning, the city is in receipt of approximately 3,500 comments with the same consistent content; they are all coming from the same IP address, the same mail server from allsend.changemailer.com.
“These comments generally call for the removal of Police Chief Daniel Miskinis due to the events related to the Jacob Blake shooting,” the clerk said.
She read three of those comments into the record.
Chief, commission don’t directly respond to comments
Neither Miskinis nor the commission directly responded to the written comments read into the record from the public.
The majority used their comments later in the meeting to congratulate those whose promotions they had approved earlier.
Richard Gallo, the commission’s secretary, seemingly gave the only response to the comments, though in vague terms, Tuesday morning.
Commission chair Bruce McCurdy used his time to also thank the clerk for reading the flood of citizens’ comments.
“A special thank you to Emily for that long read of all those complaints,” McCurdy said. “Hopefully, she’ll never have to read all 3,000 of them.”