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Another horrendous shooting by police. Another Black man wounded. Another police department under national scrutiny.

With the shooting of Jacob Blake Sunday night, Kenosha and its police were plunged into the middle of the angry national debate over policing.

And now, the city faces yet another tragedy.

Two people were shot to death and a third was injured during protests late Tuesday night. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Illinois man, has been arrested and is being held in Lake County, Ill.

The deaths are heartbreaking and come after violence earlier in the week left several businesses in ruins. The violence is reprehensible and dishonors the good people fighting for a just cause.

Blake survived the shooting but remains in serious condition at Froedtert Hospital. His father says he is paralyzed from the waist down.

"They shot my son seven times — seven times, like he didn't matter," said Blake's father, also named Jacob Blake. "But my son matters. He's a human being, and he matters."

While we don't know precisely what led police to open fire on Blake, the video of a man being shot in the back in front of his kids is sickening.

Blake's shooting provoked angry denunciations from a wide spectrum of American life — from LeBron James to Hillary Clinton. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said the shots that struck Blake "pierce the soul of the nation."

We hope the shooting also forces a reckoning: Wisconsin must face up to the chronic problem of over-aggressive policing of people of color.

We support a package of bills that aim to reduce police brutality. Gov. Tony Evers is asking the Legislature to consider them in a special session next week.

Among other things, the measures would ban police chokeholds and no-knock search warrants and make it harder for officers with troubled pasts to move from one job to another.

We also support a proposal by state Sen. Van Wanggaard, a Republican and former police officer, to allow officials to analyze police-involved deaths the same way the National Transportation Safety Board investigates plane crashes. A new Police and Community Safety Board would help law enforcement learn from such incidents.

The truth is, we've been here too many times before. Black Americans account for less than 13 percent of the population nationally but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. Hispanic Americans also are killed by police at higher rates than whites.

Dontre Hamilton.

Philando Castile.

Freddie Gray.

Breonna Taylor.

George Floyd.

They are among the many people of color who were victimized by police violence.

Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, put it this way on Twitter:

"That's at the heart of being Black in America — living with that terrible anticipation of death. That's the trauma in our bones."

It's unwise to prejudge an investigation based on 18 seconds of raw video, but Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett put it well: "The shooting of Jacob Blake is shocking, and, based on what's visible in the video, appears to lack any possible justification,"

Barrett said.

Republicans in the state Legislature are resistant to Evers' request for a special session. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) wants to wait for more information about the shooting and says he's forming a task force focused on racial disparities, educational opportunities, public safety, and police policies and standards.

The Vos task force may be a good idea — we're happy anytime the Legislature decides to rely on experts to write new legislation. But it shouldn't take months — or a task force — to tackle the basics. Legislators could ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants now. And crack down on problem officers.

The people of Kenosha — and the entire state — need answers about Blake's shooting.

And we need assurances that steps will be taken to prevent it from happening again.

Enough is enough.

— Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


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