'Change is in the air': Kenosha community airs concerns to elected officials following Jacob Blake shooting

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KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Two weeks after Jacob Blake was shot, members of the Kenosha community are pushing for reforms at the state Capitol.

Local protesters and activists held a rally on Sunday, Sept. 6, near 52nd Street and 13th Court, during which they aired their concerns in front of elected officials.

"Why is it that we need a permit to protest? Sometimes even when we have a permit, people still get arrested," said a Kenosha activist who goes by the name Billy Violet.

Many of the ideas were about changes they'd like to see from law enforcement, such as more training for officers or mandatory psychological evaluations for police.

"Why is excessive use of force so loosely defined that these officers can get away with anything that they want?" Violet asked. "We need legislation that clearly identifies and specifies what the correct hierarchy is for use of force."

Community members stood before Reps. Tod Ohnstad and Tip McGuire, both Democrats from Kenosha, and three members of the Legislative Black Caucus: Sen. Lena Taylor, Rep. LaKeshia Myers and Rep. David Bowen, all Democrats from Milwaukee.

"There are only seven African-American people that serve out of 132 (legislators) in this entire state," Myers said.

Following the shooting of Blake, many local activists are demanding more accountability and transparency from Kenosha police.

"I know that Kenosha (Police Department) does not have body cameras ... so then we as a people must make them become more accountable," said community member David Hood.

Milwaukee activist Vaun Mayes took it a step further.

"There needs to be a 30 to 90 day bodycam release mandate on footage on high-profile cases. We should not be waiting years to see these footages," Mayes said.

Blake's uncle delivered an optimistic message to the crowd about future generations.

"Do y'all feel what we feel as the Blake family in the air? ... Change is in the air," said Justin Blake.

And lawmakers had a message, too: Their doors are open.

"We are happy to listen. We are always happy to hear the concerns from people in our community," McGuire said.

Community members also spoke about other issues they'd like to see tackled in legislation. The ideas ranged from bringing back voting rights for felons and inmates to helping tackle food insecurity and build more grocery stores in Kenosha.

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