The shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin by a police officer has put a spotlight on law enforcement in the city and a sheriff who disparaged Black suspects as a “cancer” in resurfaced footage.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth declared that five theft suspects who were arrested in 2018 were “not worth saving,” TMZ reported Thursday. The outlet also uploaded the video of the press conference where Beth repeatedly referred to the suspects as “these people” and that they needed to be “warehoused” so that they could not have children.
The suspects, between the ages of 16 and 23, were charged with felony retail theft and obstruction after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise. They crashed their car into another vehicle in their attempt to get away from the police.
“I think at some point society has to get so fed up that they are no longer willing to tolerate people who are not an asset to society,” Beth said.
“I think we have to create a threshold where, once you cross the threshold, Wisconsin, the United States, builds warehouses where we put these people who have been deemed to be no longer an asset, that are really a detriment, like these five people.”
Beth further added that he did not want the suspects to even exist.
“I have no issue with these five people completely disappearing. At [this] point, these people are no longer an asset to our community, and they just need to disappear,” he said.
Beth’s comments drew backlash at the time and he met with the Kenosha NAACP. He offered an apology and claimed his “emotions got the better,” of him.
Veronica King served as the president of the Kenosha NAACP in 2018 and says she was disturbed both by his language and his disregard for the suspect’s lives.
“[Crime] victims are very important to him. And as a public safety person, he should be concerned,” she told Kenosha News at the time. “That still doesn’t give you a reason to deviate and let your emotions take control.”
Beth’s past comments come against the backdrop of the protests that have continued since Blake was shot in the back by Kenosha police and left paralyzed.
On Tuesday, two men were killed while attending a protest. As theGrio previously reported, Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was charged with first-degree murder.
During a Wednesday press conference, chief Daniel Miskinis blamed the protesters who were fatally shot for their own deaths because they violated curfew.
“Persons who were out after the curfew became engaged in some type of disturbance, and persons were shot. Everybody involved was out after the curfew. I’m not going to make a great deal of that, but the point is the curfew is in place to protect,” Miskinis said.
“Had persons not been out involved in violation of that, perhaps the situation that unfolded would not have happened.”
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