KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — An activist who participated in protests following the August police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha was charged Friday with a felony for allegedly kicking in a door at the Kenosha Public Safety Building and saying he wanted to break an officer’s fingers.
Clyde McLemore, 62, of Zion, Illinois, was charged Friday with a felony count of attempted battery to a law enforcement officer and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
McLemore founded the Black Lives Matter chapter in Lake County, Illinois, and was active in many protests after Blake’s shooting. He told the Kenosha News on Friday that he had just learned of the charges.
“Kenosha County is refusing to charge the officer that shot Jacob Blake, but now they want to charge Clyde McLemore,” he said.
Officers were trying to arrest Blake on an outstanding warrant on Aug. 23 when a pocketknife fell from his pocket. Blake picked it up and was going to a vehicle with two of his children inside when Kenosha Officer Rusten Sheskey shot him seven times. Blake has said he was prepared to surrender after putting the knife in the vehicle, but Sheskey said he feared Blake was going to stab him. Sheskey was not charged.
Letetra Wideman, Blake’s sister and chair of the Black Lives Matter chapter McLemore founded, said she was “disgusted” and called the charge absurd.
“If they don’t want to tell us in plain words that their actions are motivated by racism and systemic racism, then their actions have proven it without saying a word,” she said. “They don’t have to say it verbally, we are constantly being shown that our lives do not matter.”
The charges stem from an Aug. 24 incident after local officials moved a news conference inside the Public Safety Building due to a crowd of people outdoors. According to the complaint, people in the crowd outside were trying to force their way inside. The complaint says McLemore can be seen on video kicking the door. He allegedly posted that video on Facebook along with a comment about trying to break an officer’s fingers. The officer was not hurt.