Wisconsin city calm but police shooting reverberates across U.S.

By Brendan McDermid and Stephen Maturen

KENOSHA, Wis. (Reuters) – Relative calm returned to Kenosha, Wisconsin, overnight after the previous night’s deadly gun violence, and investigators revealed new details about the police shooting that paralyzed a Black man and revived a wave of protests over racial injustice.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on Wednesday identified Rusten Sheskey as the white police officer who fired seven shots at the back of Jacob Blake after Blake opened his car door on Sunday. Kaul also said investigators found a knife on the floor of Blake’s car.

That announcement, combined with the arrest of a 17-year-old suspect charged with homicide over the previous night’s gunfire, set the stage for what could have been another night of chaos on the streets of Kenosha, about 40 miles (60 km) south of Milwaukee.

Shockwaves from the events in the city of about 100,000 were felt throughout the United States as professional athletes went on strike and anti-racism street protests intensified in other cities. At the Republican National Convention, Vice President Mike Pence and other speakers demanded “law and order.”

But in Kenosha, after three nights of civil strife – including arson, vandalism and the shootings that killed two people on Tuesday night – calm appeared to take hold on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

About 200 protesters defied a curfew and marched peacefully through city streets, chanting, “Black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace” in response to the shooting of Blake, 29, in the presence of three of his young sons.

Law enforcement officers kept a low profile, and counter demonstrators and armed militia figures were notably absent.

Prior nights had seen an array of rifle-toting civilians among them 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who was arrested on Wednesday on homicide charges in connection with Tuesday night’s shootings. Rittenhouse, a police supporter, was arrested at his home in Antioch, Illinois, about 20 miles (30 km) away.


National Basketball Association players led by the Milwaukee Bucks went on strike to protest racial injustice during the playoffs, putting the rest of the season in jeopardy.

Players in Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the Women’s National Basketball followed with their own wildcat strikes, and tennis player Naomi Osaka pulled out of a tournament in Ohio.

The Kenosha turmoil struck while much of the United States remained agitated over George Floyd, who died on May 25 after a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck.

In Minneapolis, authorities declared a state of emergency on Wednesday to quell unrest sparked by the death of a Black homicide suspect who police say shot himself.

Police in Oakland, California, said hundreds of people took part in demonstrations that resulted in fires, broken windows and vandalized businesses. And police and protesters continued to clash in Portland, Oregon, where demonstrations have gone on for nearly three months straight.

In the police shooting that sparked the latest wave of outrage, Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha police force, fired seven times at Blake’s back, hitting him four times.

Blake survived despite wounds to his spine and multiple organs, and he may be permanently paralyzed, his family’s lawyers said.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, one of the lawyers representing Blake’s family, disputed the report that Blake had a knife.

“Jacob Blake didn’t harm anyone or pose any threat to the police, yet they shot him seven times in the back in front of his children,” Crump said.

“But when a young white supremacist shot and killed two peaceful protesters, local law enforcement and National Guardsmen allowed him to walk down the street with his assault weapon,” Crump and his co-counsels said in a statement, without offering proof that Rittenhouse was a racist.

They were referring to video from the previous night that showed the person who had just fired on protesters was able to walk past a battery of police without being arrested.

Authorities later caught up with Rittenhouse, whose since-deleted Facebook page shows him posing with another young man, both of them holding rifles. The photo is encircled by a Blue Lives Matter badge in support of police.

(Additional reporting by Nathan Layne, Daniel Trotta, Ann Maria Shibu and Kanishka Singh; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Nick Macfie and Jonathan Oatis)

Sport could resume in empty stadiums says top U.S. disease expert

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The NFL campaign and an abbreviated baseball season may be possible if games are played without fans and players are kept in lockdown, U.S. President Donald Trump’s leading infectious disease adviser said on Wednesday.

It has been a little over a month since the NBA season was abruptly halted amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, with most professional sports following suit, leaving arenas and stadiums empty amid speculation over when live sport can return.

“There’s a way of doing that: Nobody comes to the stadium, put them (the players) in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled,” Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. health expert said in a Snapchat interview.

“Make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family and just let them play the season out.”

Fauci, who appeared last month in an Instagram live interview with Golden State Warriors sharp-shooter Steph Curry, said he would recommend that athletes should be tested roughly once a week after resuming play.

The prospect of sports going ahead without fans has met with some criticism. Major League Baseball recently damped down talk it would return as soon as May with players competing in an isolation bubble.

Last month, before professional sport was suspended, 16-time NBA All-Star LeBron James called the notion of playing without fans impossible.

“People say, ‘Well, you know, you can’t play without spectators,’” said Fauci. “Well, I think you probably get enough buy-in from people who are dying to see a baseball game – particularly me.

“I’m living in Washington, we have the World Champion Washington Nationals, I want to see them play again.”

The NFL regular season is due to kick off on Sept. 10, but there is no date for the MLB to start or for the NBA and NHL to resume. Major League Soccer said on Tuesday its projection to return in mid-May was “extremely unlikely.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Men’s tennis, NBA basketball, La Liga soccer: coronavirus shreds sports calendar

LONDON (Reuters) – The global sporting calendar has been shredded by the coronavirus pandemic, with men’s tennis shut down for six weeks, top European soccer leagues on hold and the NBA having announced a suspension until further notice.

Poignantly, the Olympic flame was lit in ancient Olympia but the road to the Tokyo Olympics appears, at present, a distant one with the spread of the virus impacting across all sports.

Men’s tennis’s ATP Tour announced that no tournaments would take place until after April 20 at the earliest, wiping out the prestigious Miami Open and Monte Carlo Opens as well as tournaments in Houston and Marrakech.

“This is not a decision that was taken lightly and it represents a great loss for our tournaments, players, and fans worldwide,” the ATP’s chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said.

“However we believe this is the responsible action needed at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic.”

Earlier this week the Indian Wells tournament was canceled, while the International Tennis Federation postponed the revamped Fed Cup Finals set for Budapest in April.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) took the decision on Wednesday to suspend the season until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” a statement said.

While chaos escalated elsewhere, Formula One was apparently carrying on regardless with the Australian Grand Prix likely to go ahead despite the McLaren team withdrawing after a team member tested positive for coronavirus.

Mercedes’ six times world champion Lewis Hamilton told reporters earlier that it was “shocking” the race could go ahead and suggested organizers had put financial concerns ahead of people’s health.

Spain and the Netherlands became the latest nations to suspend all soccer leagues.

The next two rounds of La Liga fixtures were postponed. Real Madrid put its squad into quarantine after a member of the club’s basketball team tested positive on Thursday.

“Given the circumstances that are coming to light this morning, referring to the quarantine established in Real Madrid and the possible cases in players from other clubs, La Liga considers it appropriate to continue to the next phase of the protocol of action against COVID-19,” said La Liga.

Italy’s Serie A has already stopped until at least April 3 with the country in lockdown after 12,000 infections and 800 deaths. Two Serie A players, Sampdoria’s Manolo Gabbiadini and Daniele Rugani, of Juventus, have tested positive.

England’s Premier League was waiting to discover whether or not it would continue, or have matches played behind closed doors, with the government expected to move its response to the coronavirus crisis from the “contain” phase to the “delay” phase at an emergency “Cobra” committee meeting.

With many other European leagues either suspended or playing without fans in stadiums, the fate of this year’s Euro 2020 championship being played across 12 cities remains unclear.

Governing body UEFA said it will hold a meeting of all 55 football federations in Europe to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on all domestic and European competitions.

Two of Thursday’s Europa League matches have been postponed, while it looks highly unlikely that next week’s Champions League clash between Manchester City and Real Madrid will be played.

Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States also announced that the season was suspended until further notice.

Some events were continuing though, with the first round under way at golf’s Players Championship at Sawgrass.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Peter Graff)

Turkish NBA star Kanter calls Erdogan ‘Hitler of our century’

Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter speaks about the revocation of his Turkish passport and return to the United States at National Basketball Players Association headquarters in New York, U.S.,

By Gina Cherelus

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Enes Kanter, the NBA star whose home country, Turkey, revoked his passport over the weekend, lashed out at President Tayyip Erdogan at a news conference on Monday, calling him “the Hitler of our century” and describing himself as the victim of political retaliation.

Kanter, an outspoken Erdogan critic who plays for the National Basketball Association’s Oklahoma City Thunder, returned to the United States on Sunday after being detained in Romania when authorities learned his passport had been revoked.

The 6-foot-11-inch center, whose team was eliminated from the NBA playoffs, was traveling on a charity and promotional tour.

“The reason behind it was, whoever is going to try to go against the president, he’s going to try to shut him down,” Kanter said at the press conference in New York.

The Turkish embassy in Washington D.C. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kanter, who attended the University of Kentucky, said he has received daily death threats, mostly over social media, including two on Monday.

He contends that Turkey revoked his travel document in retaliation for his long-time support of Fethullah Gulen, a dissident cleric who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. Erdogan is seeking Gulen’s extradition for his alleged role in a failed coup last July.

Kanter said last year he had severed ties with his family and pledged allegiance to Gulen after Turkish media published a letter signed by Kanter’s father, disowning his son.

In an April referendum, Turks narrowly backed constitutional changes creating an executive presidency that gave sweeping new powers to Erdogan, including control over the Islamist AKP Party.

The move, viewed by domestic and international critics as an authoritative power grab by Erdogan, comes amid mounting foreign policy challenges and tensions with NATO allies.

During the coup attempt, rogue soldiers in warplanes and tanks tried to seize power in Turkey in a plot that killed more than 240 people. Gulen has denied involvement.

At the news briefing, Kanter accused the Turkish president of quelling opposition at any price, including murder and rape.

“Erdogan, he’s a terrible man. He’s the Hitler of our century,” Kanter said. “I hope the world is going to do something about it.”

Kanter, who returned to the United States via London after his release by Romanian authorities, said on Monday his worst fear was to be sent against his will to Turkey.

“It was, of course, scary. If they sent me back to Turkey, probably you guys wouldn’t hear a word from me the second day,” Kanter said.

Kanter, who holds a U.S. green card allowing him to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis, said he hoped to become an American citizen because he is currently “country-less.”

Kanter said he had received a great deal of support online from fans and personal messages from teammates wishing him well following the incident in Romania, including a text message from teammate, Russell Westbrook.

“I’m not even from America, and I see all these people and I get all this support. I feel like this is my home now,” Kanter said.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York and Ian Simpson in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Frank McGurty and Bernadette Baum)

Baylor Basketball Star Says God Will Open New Door

Isaiah Austin, whose dream of playing in the NBA ended when a physical before the draft found a rare genetic disorder, is turning what some consider a huge blow into a moment of praise to the Lord.

Austin, who was symbolically drafted at the NBA Draft by the league as “the league’s best pick”, said that God was simply closing a door and that another one would come open as the Lord leads him.

“I worked so hard to get to this point and unfortunately it was taken away but when God closes one door, He opens up another for you … God has really put will power in my heart to help me push through this … I’m going to dream again,” said Austin.  “I’m going to go around and share my story with as many people as I can and just hope to touch people’s lives and let them know that any obstacle that they’re facing, they can get through it. All they have to do is keep a positive mind and thank God for every moment that they’re here on this earth.”

Austin was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, which impacts the heart, eyes, circulatory system and skeleton.  His aorta has been growing wider in the last two years and if it continues to expand he will require open heart surgery.  His doctors said his condition made it too risky for him to continue competitive basketball and that he could drop dead on the floor at any moment if he continued to play.

Austin says that he plans to remain in the sport in some way and Baylor coach Scott Drew said there’s a coaching position available for Austin if he wants it.

NBA Coach Fired Because of Christian Beliefs?

NBA observers were surprised when the Golden State Warriors dismissed coach Mark Jackson despite his very successful run with the team.

Now reports are surfacing that the coach’s strong Christian faith may have played a part in his dismissal from the team.

Mark Jackson, a pastor before being hired to coach the team, was asked on 95.7 FM in the Bay Area about comments Jackson’s strong Christian faith caused problems between himself and ownership that lead to his firing.

“I was hired when I was a pastor. I think it’s unfortunate because if it was true, you don’t encourage media to come do a piece on my church, on my ministry, the work on my faith. Don’t do it when it’s convenient and you’re searching for something. I never went around beating people in the head with a Bible,” said Jackson.

Jackson, the first coach to take the Warriors to the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1991-1992, said that he is thankful for the opportunity God gave him with Golden State.

“I’m grateful…Maybe that doesn’t sell but I’m grateful for the opportunity and we move on. And God-willing another opportunity will present itself but if not, I’m totally at peace being a husband, a father, a pastor,” Jackson said.

Jackson and his wife Desiree Coleman are co-pastors of the True Love Worship Center International in Reseda, California.