KENOSHA - The ACLU of Wisconsin sent a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Josh Kaul, highlighting the absence of a legal basis for the curfew in Kenosha, and asking Kaul to investigate law enforcement’s repeated use of force against protesters, reiterating the organization’s previous demand for an investigation into criminal and unconstitutional conduct of law enforcement officials toward protesters. The ACLU also insists that the Kenosha District Attorney dismiss all charges for violating the illegal curfew.
The curfew, the ACLU argues, was unlawfully put into place because it was first issued by Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, something that the sheriff does not have the authority to do. Emergency ordinances, like county-wide curfews, must be authorized by local governments, not law enforcement personnel. When the Kenosha Common Council declared a state of emergency on August 25, and transferred emergency powers to the mayor, he failed to provide critical details about the curfew, including where exactly it would be enforced, who was subject to it, and whether or not there were exemptions.
Between August 23 and September 2, 94 people were arrested for violating curfew in Kenosha. Curfew citations were targeted at people protesting police violence and racism, while heavily-armed, white militia members seem to have been given a free pass.
The letter also alludes to the numerous instances in which law enforcement has used excessive force against protesters, which warrants an independent investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
“It should be obvious that the Kenosha Sheriff and the Kenosha Police Department cannot investigate these events,” the letter stated. “Virtually the entire contingent of personnel of both agencies were involved in these events. For the same reasons that you are investigating the shooting of Jacob Blake, you must undertake an investigation of the subsequent events in Kenosha.”