The Rundown: Jacob Blake shooting looms over Rittenhouse trial

Jacob Blake
Jacob Blake Sr., father of Jacob Blake, holds a candle at a rally Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Kenosha, Wis. Morry Gash / AP Photo
Jacob Blake
Jacob Blake Sr., father of Jacob Blake, holds a candle at a rally Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Kenosha, Wis. Morry Gash / AP Photo

The Rundown: Jacob Blake shooting looms over Rittenhouse trial

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Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, and the first Harry Potter movie came out 20 years ago today. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Billy Porter should have been a professor at Hogwarts. Anyway, here’s what you need to know today.

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1. As jury deliberates in Rittenhouse trial, Black residents in Kenosha say Jacob Blake deserves justice

There is widespread frustration among Black residents in Kenosha, Wis., that the police officer who shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake is not on trial. The shooting set off protests for racial justice last year that culminated with Kyle Rittenhouse killing two men.

Rusten Sheskey, the officer who shot Blake, has been cleared of charges and continues to serve on the force.

“It’s evidence of an unjust, unfair system,” Alvin Owens, a Black community leader and business owner, told The Washington Post. “This is something Black America sees all the time, but white Kenosha, white Wisconsin and white America don’t get it. They don’t know what Black America experiences.” [WaPo]

Meanwhile, 12 jurors are deciding the fate of Rittenhouse. In an unusual move, the judge allowed Rittenhouse to select “numbered slips of paper from a raffle drum that determined which of the 18 people who sat in judgment during the trial would decide his fate and which ones would be dismissed as alternates,” the AP reports. That task is usually done by a court clerk. [AP]

2. Most Americans oppose Texas’ abortion law

Sixty-five percent of Americans say the U.S. Supreme Court should reject a Texas law banning most abortions, according to a poll out today from The Washington Post and ABC News. Just 29% said the nation’s high court should uphold the law.

Sixty percent of Americans also say the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision establishing a constitutional right to abortions. That’s in line with polls going back to 2005, the Post reports.

Abortion rights have emerged as a big issue before the justices this term. The court is currently considering whether the federal government or abortion providers can mount legal challenges to the Texas law, which was designed in a way to avoid federal courts.

And on Dec. 1, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case from Mississippi that seeks to overturn Roe. [WaPo]

3. Head of Chicago’s police union retires from the police department amid disciplinary hearing

The president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police retired today from the Police Department as he faced the possibility of being fired for violating several department rules, including making inflammatory statements online, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

John Catanzara made the surprise announcement that he would retire during a hearing yesterday on the charges, but he did not file the required paperwork until today. An attorney for the Police Department has moved to withdraw the charges against Catanzara, though they could be brought up again.

Catanzara, who plans to remain as the head of the police union, told the Sun-Times that he intends to run for mayor. [S-T]

4. Chicago-area school district finds itself in the middle of the nation’s culture wars

Hundreds of people attended a school board meeting last night in Downers Grove, where a debate has erupted over whether a book about sexual orientation and gender identity should be pulled from high school library shelves.

The book, Gender Queer, is one of several pieces of literature that have recently come under fire from Republicans as the party zeroes in on opposition to critical race theory and other progressive teachings in schools.

As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, the school board meeting attracted the attention of the far-right Proud Boys, which encouraged members to show up, though it’s unclear if anyone from the group attended.

Critics say Gender Queer is pornography because a few pages depict sexual acts. But students question why the book is drawing so much attention when sex scenes can be found in other works, such as The Handmaid’s Tale. [Sun-Times]

5. New Year’s Eve is a go in Times Square

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced revelers who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

“We are proud to announce the Times Square wonderful celebration, the ball drop, everything, coming back full strength, the way we love it,” he said. “Hundreds of thousands of people there to celebrate, we can finally get back together again. It’s going to be amazing, it’s going to be a joy for the city.”

People will be required to show proof of their vaccination status and a photo ID. De Blasio stressed that the city is working with health officials to make the event a safe one. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Pfizer has agreed to let other companies make its COVID-19 pill, a move that could greatly expand access to the treatment around the world. [AP]
  • An “atmospheric river” hit the Pacific Northwest, bringing massive rainstorms and flooding. [NPR]
  • American journalist Danny Fenster, who was recently freed from a prison in Myanmar, reunited with his family today in the U.S. [AP]
  • How do you reconnect with an estranged family member? Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt reflects on his last-minute visit with his dad before he died. [Tribune]

Oh, and one more thing …

The U.S. is angry at another superpower for blowing up a satellite in space and creating a mess that could be a risk for astronauts for years. Can you guess which country?

I’ll give you a hint: Russia.

The State Department says Russia created hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris after the test of an anti-satellite weapon. The crew on the International Space Station was ordered to shelter in two spacecraft attached to the station in case they needed to make an emergency return, NPR reports.

Russia’s Defense Ministry called the U.S. “hypocritical” and said the debris will not pose a danger to space missions. [NPR]

Tell me something good …

The weather is steadily getting colder, and I’d like to know: What are your plans this winter?

Michelle T. writes:

“I have two young kids and I go a little stir crazy being stuck inside at home during winter. To pass the time we make a lot of trips to museums, aquariums, play places, the library, etc. Looking forward to vaccinating my almost 5-year-old so we can enjoy these places more this year!”

And David Kopka writes:

“I love outdoor hockey or just skating at the park near my house. Or getting some beautiful photos down by the lakes of beautiful winter ice and igloos! Remember, love the winter because you can always put more clothes on, unlike the summer when you’re limited to what you can take off.”

Feel free to email me at or tweet me at @whuntah, and your responses might be shared here this week.

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