A Statement from the CUSH Religious Leaders Caucus
TO THE COMMUNITY OF KENOSHA JANUARY 6, 2021
Kenosha District Attorney Graveley expounded Tuesday on the legal and factual reasons that neither officer Rusten Sheskey nor his colleagues would face charges for their involvement in the paralyzing shooting of Jacob Blake. While we understand the basis for the decision and we recognize that the law was on the side of the officers, we are troubled by the forces that caused this tragic situation.
We have seen, time and again, law enforcement committing crimes more egregious than those they were trying to prevent, protected by statutes and policy that insulate them from accountability for their actions. The recent dismissal of charges for officers responsible for the murders of Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor were apt prelude to the decision in the Jacob Blake case and only add to the frustration and grief we in the Kenosha faith community feel for all who have been denied justice.
As religious leaders committed to pursuing peaceful ends through peaceful means, we implore all who protest to do so responsibly and without violence. Further, we are all the more steadfast in our belief that laws and policing policies that legitimize what happened to Jacob Blake are unjust and need to be rectified.
We believe that, while the actions of the officers in involved in the incident on August 23, 2020 have been deemed to conform to the letter of the law, there were other options open to the officers that would have caused less harm to Mr. Blake and less trauma to the witnesses, including children. We call for disciplinary action against all three officers involved in the incident of August 23rd, 2020 for not taking those other actions.
We are further concerned about the actions of law enforcement in the days that followed this incident, specifically the welcoming of armed citizens to our city and the disregard of their violations of the law while protestors and others out after curfew were subject to arrest and treated harshly. We call for an examination of these actions and ask that Chief Miskinis and Mayor Antaramian take responsibility for failing to address these deficiencies and inequities. These oversights show complicity in
perpetuating a culture of fear and the suppression of citizens’ voices which privileges property over people.
Furthermore, we call for a commitment to divest 20% of the city budget currently allocated to law enforcement to invest in black and brown communities in Kenosha, including but not limited to areas affected by the protests in August, ensuring that current residents are able to remain through expanded affordable and subsidized housing even after redevelopment has been completed.
Finally, while the Mayor has established task forces to examine some of the racial issues that persist in Kenosha, we call (yet again) for a reestablishment of the Human Rights Commission in order to better supervise and direct inquiries into human rights abuses by municipal authorities. Until such a group exists and has the resources necessary to perform their duties, no positive change will be lasting.
It is our utmost hope and most sincere prayer that we might take this moment of great pain and use it to fuel a more just and equitable Kenosha for all who live here.
Religious Leaders Caucus, Congregations United to Serve Humanity
Rabbi Dena A. Feingold, Beth Hillel Temple
Rev. Paul Petersen, St. Mary’s Lutheran Church
Rev. Matthew Buterbaugh, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
Pastor Patrick Roberts, First Baptist Church Kenosha
Pastor Kara Baylor, Campus Pastor, Carthage College
Cassie Oliver, CFS Carthage College
Rev. Jonathan Barker, Grace Lutheran Church
Rev. Dr. Monica L. Cummings, Bradford Unitarian Universalist
Rev. Erik David Carlson, Bradford Unitarian Universalist
Russ Hahn, Trinity Church Kenosha
Rev. Jim Lynch, Lakeside Lutheran Church
Judy Seiberlich, OP, Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa
Erica Jordan, OP, Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa
Rev. Dr. Grace Cajiuat, Wesley United Methodist Church
Rev. Susan Patterson-Sumwalt, First United Methodist Church
Fr. Gerald Hessel, St. Mark Catholic Church
Fr. Carlos Florez, St. Mark Catholic Church
It's good to be here! My name is Lori Hawkins and I'm the new CUSH Community Organizer. I'm looking forward to helping further the mission of CUSH to benefit the Kenosha community. CUSH works to address the issues of injustice and oppression that are brought forth by voices within our community. Action leading to positive change is what we are called to do together through our interfaith coalition. There are many ways to get involved in our efforts, whether as a volunteer, a mentor or a donor.
Please reach out and introduce yourself as either a longtime CUSH participant or as someone who is interested in learning more about our organization. You can reach me directly at email@example.com. Please watch this space for what CUSH will be doing in the upcoming new year and how you can get involved.
Wishing you a peaceful New Year!
Support Our Brothers and Sisters During This Difficult Time
Immigrant families in Kenosha County are experiencing unprecedented hardship because of Covid 19. However, many of these families are not eligible for the federal and state programs created to provide economic relief. And now many find themselves unable to pay for basic necessities – especially rent and other housing costs.
For this reason, CUSH has created a fund to support our Kenosha immigrant brothers and sisters.*
Help us reach our $10,000 goal.
Please Donate What You Can And a special request for those of you fortunate enough to not need your stimulus check - please
consider donating part or all of it.
All funds received will be held by CUSH specifically for the purpose of supporting immigrant families.
How to make your tax-deductible donation: 1) On-line at (click the donate button above and in the comments, add immigration fundraiser), or 2) send your check payable to CUSH to PO Box 1324, Kenosha, WI 53141
* We are working with the Racine Immigrant Support Initiative to administer our relief efforts. Information about the Racine Immigrant Support Initiative can be found at https://racineimmigrantsupport.com/
Madison Action Day Exceeds Expectations!
About 750 WISDOM members from all parts of Wisconsin made a big impact at the state capitol in Madison on Tuesday!
WISDOM Leaders led reflections on the hard work of “building the Beloved Community,” including the challenges of radical inclusion, costly reconciliation and living for the seventh generation. Speakers called on WISDOM leaders to work to reform ourselves, our own organizations, and the state we live in.
After lunch, Madison Action Day became a blocks-long procession to the Capitol, led by the 14-foot high Jingle Dress Puppet, created by Native people of northwestern Wisconsin, who prays for unity.
A rally on the Capitol steps called for racial equity, and a pledge to continue to lift our voices until every Wisconsinite knows justice. WISDOM leaders then visited the offices of nearly every member of the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly. Madison Action Day was an amazing display of unity, of shared purpose and of the power of organized people!
Download the Program Book with our issue positions and the values that drive us to work so hard for them.
Congregation-based Community Organizing
We are a coalition of congregations bound by our commitment to social justice. We believe in centering the voices of those most affected by issues in our community. We practice our faith by working together to change systems which harm us and our neighbors.
Criminal Justice Reform
We integrate anti-racism and anti-poverty into our issue work.
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