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[00:00:02]

The investigation ramps up in Kenosha as anger continues to fill the streets, and it's not just Wisconsin.

[00:00:09]

Thousands marched in Washington, D.C., chanting for justice and pausing for temperature checks. I'm Scott Simon.

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I'm Debbie Elliott. And this is up first from NPR News. Kenosha police say Jacob Blake had a knife in his car. The Wisconsin attorney general tells NPR releasing that information is part of their process.

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The fact that certain evidence was recovered, for example, or that a taser was deployed. We are being as open and transparent about things as we can be.

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The latest on that case and of the Illinois teenager arrested for the fatal shooting of protesters in Kenosha and will go to Louisiana, where they're just starting to recover from Hurricane Laura. Stay with us.

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We've got the news you need to start the weekend support for NPR. And the following message come from American Express. They're proud to support small business owners through this unprecedented time. And whatever comes next to help your small business get back to business, visit, stand for small dotcoms, partner. That's the powerful backing of American Express.

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There's a widely seen video and the account given by Jacob Blake's lawyers.

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But Wisconsin authorities have released very few details about the events leading up to Kenosha police shooting the 29 year old black man seven times in the back this weekend.

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The union that represents the officers involved in the shooting is putting out their version. And NPR's David Schaper joins us. David, thanks so much for being with us.

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My pleasure, Scott. Jacob, Blake's lawyers said he was breaking up a fight, then tried to walk away. What does the union say happened?

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Well, the Kenosha Professional Police Association says that Blake was not at all breaking up a fight. He was wanted on a warrant. He was armed with a knife. He was uncooperative, noncompliant, resisting officers attempts to gain compliance. They twice shot Tasers at him, but the Tasers failed to subdue him. The union statement goes on to say that Blake fought with the officers who put one of them in a headlock before breaking free and trying to get back into a vehicle based on the inability to gain compliance and control after using verbal, physical and less lethal methods.

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The officers drew their weapons, the statement says, adding that, quote, Mr. Blake continued to ignore the officer's commands, even with the threat of lethal force now present.

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And however, the lawyers for the Blake family responded well in an interview on CNN last night, Blake attorney Patrick Cafardi called the union's description overblown, says that witnesses on the scene have told them that the police were the aggressors, that they almost immediately got physical with Blake and took him down to the ground and tasered him.

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And as he tried to get away from them and walk around the van and tried to get away from the situation, that is, and at a time when he was posing no imminent threat, they shot him in the back point blank seven times.

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David, any response or statements from the Kenosha Police Department and State investigators?

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Not much. I mean, they did put out a couple of statements and talked briefly, but they provided very few actual details about the events that led up to the shooting.

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They do say that there was a knife found in the vehicle after the shooting, but they haven't said of Jacob Blake was brandishing that knife before the shooting happened.

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Police have also confirmed that there was a warrant issued for Blake back in July and that outstanding warrant was part of the reason they were trying to arrest him. And they acknowledged that even though he is paralyzed, he was handcuffed to the rail of his hospital bed while under a 24 hour police guard that because of he was under arrest. But attorneys for Blake say a five hundred dollar bail has been posted.

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So the handcuffs were removed yesterday and he is no longer under that guard.

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Of course, there was also another shooting Tuesday night during the protests in Kenosha. And police have arrested 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse, who's charged with shooting and killing two people and injuring a third. What's the latest on that case?

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Well, you know, he was supposed to appear in court for an extradition hearing that's just over the border in Lee County, Illinois, where he lives and is being held because that's where he was arrested.

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But the judge granted a one month delay in that as his family organizes attorneys to represent one of those attorneys who's apparently representing him. Lin Wood, a high profile defense attorney from Atlanta, says the video will show that he acted in self-defense. And he tweeted yesterday or last night, actually, that murder charges are actually factually impossible, adding that this is an egregious miscarriage of justice.

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Meanwhile, Kenosha police are taking a lot of heat for being seen in videos appearing to be supportive of armed vigilantes, including Rittenhouse, before the shootings and after for allowing Rittenhouse to walk right by several police vehicles with his assault rifle slung over his shoulder.

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Police Chief Daniel Maskin defends his officers, saying it was a chaotic situation in Rittenhouse, didn't appear to be a threatening suspect.

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There are a lot of people in the area, a lot of people with weapons and unfortunately, a lot of gun. That response is angering a lot of people here who said had it been a black man walking toward them with a semi-automatic rifle, he would have at least been arrested if not shot.

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David Watts, Kenosha, like this weekend? Well, you know, it's a town that's still kind of on edge. But, you know, last night for the third night in a row is quiet in terms of protests. There was a late afternoon march and vigil for Blake, a smaller group of protesters who gathered outside of the courthouse for a while past the seven p.m. curfew. But they had pretty much all left and gone home before 11 o'clock when we last checked.

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There are still people cleaning up damage from the fires and the riots earlier in the week and work being done on that front.

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But there's still a lot of tension here over the racial inequalities and this the way this violent week has unfolded. And there is a big rally that is planned for today with members of Jacob Blake's family expected to attend.

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NPR's David Schaper, thanks so much. My pleasure, Scott.

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People are in the streets of Washington, D.C., thousands for a demonstration organized after the police killing of George Floyd.

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It's called the Get Your Knee Off our next March. And it happened on the anniversary of the 1963 march on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed, I have a dream.

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Activists who marched called for organizing and getting out the vote this November. NPR's Juana Summers watched the march and spoke to participants. She joins us now. Wanda, thanks for being with us.

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Hey there. Good morning. What did you see? Yes.

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So there were thousands of protesters who gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to call for racial justice and overhaul of the country's criminal justice system. This was a really big crowd and also a really diverse crowd. And there are a number of speakers, including union leaders, politicians, civil rights leaders. But they also heard some powerful words from a number of family members of black people who had been hurt or killed in cases that have caught public attention. And we should note that this event had been coming together for some months now.

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But many people that I spoke to did mention Jacob Blake, another name on a list of names that they say is just far too long.

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We've seen activism in the streets all around the country this summer and in violence in a few cities. And their guess was a lot of talk about what this all may mean come November. What was the sense at the march yesterday, which was peaceful?

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Yes, of something striking to me was the urgency that I heard from people around voting. As I was actually walking around. There were volunteers. It seemed like at every corner actually registering people to vote. I wanna introduce you to one person I met. Her name is Stephanie Lyonne. And when the 1963 march happened, she was only 11 years old and her mom told her she was too young to go so she couldn't go and vote like she had to be there.

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And the other thing that she was very insistent about was how she planned to vote.

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I think that mail and voting give me some sense that some apprehension in doing so. But then it shows that I'm really going to support the voting process. And I think that it's going to be fully legal and straightforward.

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And this topic kept coming up. We also talked with Kay Marshall, who lives in Jacksonville about it.

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So it's early voting for early voting opens in Florida. That's what I go. I got to wait for the day off. I go month before. So the lines are lower, a smaller and so I can get in and out.

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But I still participate in the process when, of course, these activists were marching and gathering not far from the White House, where just this week President Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president.

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Yeah, and if you remember in that speech, President Trump talked about gatherings like this. He described the people participating as agitators who he said wanted to destroy the American way of life. A lot of people who gathered heard that speech and had a lot of strong words for the president.

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Almost everyone I talked you said that they plan to support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The Democratic candidates, though there were certainly different degrees of enthusiasm.

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Akina Newborough is 24, and I spoke to her about the Democratic presidential nominee and whether she thought that young people like herself would vote in November or whether a lack of enthusiasm for the ticket might keep them home.

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They understand what's going on and they understand that whether you love Biden or not, you got to vote for him because we can't have four more years of Trump.

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Numerous said that it did not matter whether Biden and Harris were a perfect fit. She said she was more worried about the future of the country and what it would look like if President Trump does win another four years.

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NPR's Juana Summers, thanks so much. Thank you.

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And you can hear more of Juanas reporting on the NPR Politics podcast. So be sure to download and subscribe.

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Much of southern Louisiana is still without power for those who stayed behind Thursday when Hurricane Laura made landfall. And for those who have returned since, cleanup is difficult and slow.

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Growing trees and power lines are down throughout much of Lake Charles. One of the cities that took the brunt of the storm is 150 mile per hour.

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Winds are brewhouse of member station WWL. Spent the day there and joins us now. Good morning, Aubrey.

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Good morning. So tell us what you saw.

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Yeah, so I started by reporting downtown, and that's where a lot of the most visible damages, storefronts blown apart, debris everywhere, windows shattered, buildings are just completely fell apart. I saw this massive broadcast tower that just crumpled to the ground. And when I talked to some of the residents who are around, it told me they've often looked to this tower in past storms and it's been a comfort when it's still standing. And they didn't have that this time around.

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It really let them know just how strong Laura was. Power is still out across the city and the water isn't working either. Elected officials have said it might be weeks before residents get those services back. And because there's no electricity, traffic lights aren't working. Some roads are completely impassable, either because they're covered with debris or floodwater. And while there were a lot of cars on the road, you know, relief workers and military vehicles, there weren't a lot of residents back just yet because the conditions are so difficult.

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Now, I understand you were able to spend some time, though, with some people who were returning and trying to figure out if their homes were still there and what damage had had incurred and what what the damage was. What did they find?

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Yeah, so I did. I found a family, the pilots, they told me that they evacuated to Arkansas as the storm was coming in and that they returned to Lake Charles, you know, not exactly knowing what they would find when they got to their house. They said everything looked pretty good from the front. They could see that there was, you know, a branch on the back of the roof. It wasn't until they walked around to the backyard, they saw that this massive branch had, you know, crashed through the ceiling, opened up a hole in the kitchen and was placing a lot of weight on the rest of the roof.

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I spoke with Abbie Pietje, the daughter of the family, as she saw all of this. And she had a good sense of humor about it.

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Mom said, I always wanted a skylight in my kitchen, but not like this. Hmm. Yeah.

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And when I was there, lots of people had, you know, descended on the house to help the family out somewhere on the roof using a chainsaw to cut the branches of the big oak tree. Others were in the back cheering them on. And still more people were inside the house, moving furniture and belongings to try and limit the damage.

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We're trying to move everything before the ceilings cave because it's looking like it won't last very long.

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So good spirit there. Despite the the destruction, did you get a sense from residents what they're planning to do next in the recovery?

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Yeah, so obviously it's always traumatizing after a major disaster like this. People are thankful for what they have and they're thankful to be alive. And a lot of the people I spoke to were just really relieved. The damage from the storm was nowhere near as bad as forecasters had thought it would be. You know, some people that I spoke to said they were really expecting to come home to, you know, homes that had been completely flooded out. And when they saw that that hadn't happened, they were just, you know, really thankful.

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But still, it's not easy to recover from something like this. Things are in really, really bad shape. And without having power, without having water, it's difficult for people to come back. And it's difficult, you know, to get the ball rolling when it comes to recovery work. So, you know, people don't know exactly when they're going to be able to get to the bulk of the work. And right now, they're just kind of, you know, trying to keep things where they are right now so they don't get worse.

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It's also late August in Louisiana. So it's hot and humid. And those aren't exactly the greatest conditions, you know, to try to put things back together.

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Oh, that's Aubrey Yuhas of member station WNYC, who has been reporting in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Thank you so much, Aubrey. You're welcome. And that's a first for Saturday, August 29th, 2020. I'm Scott Simon. And I'm Debbie Elliott. Our weekend version of Up First is produced by a caffeinated crew, Hiba Ahmad, Denise Scarra and Danny Hensel.

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I say EMU Field and keeping us all in line, supervising editor Evie Stone, executive producer Sarah Lucy Oliver and deputy managing editor Jim came up first, is back Monday with news to start your week.

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