KENOSHA — An activist who took part in Black Lives Matter protests following the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha was charged Friday with a felony for allegedly kicking a door at the Kenosha Public Safety Building and allegedly making a comment about breaking a police officer’s fingers.
Clyde McLemore, 62, of Zion, Ill., founder of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Lake County, Illinois, was charged Friday in Kenosha County Circuit Court with attempted battery to a law enforcement officer — a felony — and disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. A warrant was issued for McLemore’s arrest.
McLemore was active in many of the Black Lives Matter protests in the city following the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer on Aug. 23. He was also involved in protests in Racine following the Jan. 17, 2018, shooting of Donte Shannon by Racine Police. Prosecutors declined to file charges against police in either incident.
Letetra Wideman, Jacob Blake’s sister and chair of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Lake County that McLemore founded, said she was “disgusted” by the charge, calling it absurd. She said McLemore has worked for years on social justice issues.
“I would like to understand how the police can put a warrant out for the arrest of Clyde for kicking a door, but there was no charge for the police officer who shot my brother in the back seven times with his children in the car,” Wideman said. “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. They don’t have to say it verbally, we are constantly being shown that our lives do not matter.”
According to the criminal complaint, the felony charge is based on a statement McLemore made on his Facebook page in which he allegedly said he “was mad enough to try to break the officer’s fingers,” the statement posted along with a photo and video of him allegedly kicking the door of the Public Safety Building during a protest outside. The officer was not injured.
Reached by phone Friday afternoon, McLemore said 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.
McLemore was among a group of people protesting at Civic Center Park on the afternoon of Aug. 24. Local officials had been scheduled to hold a press conference about the Blake shooting and protest in the community. The press conference was scheduled to be held in the park, but was moved inside the Public Safety Building because of the crowd in the park.
When Mayor John Antaramian arrived at the Public Safety Building for the press conference, an angry group of about 50 people were outside. They attempted to force their way inside, where local and state officials and members of the media had already gathered in the lobby.
Protesters damaged the door in their efforts to get inside.
Police in tactical gear were called in to break up the crowd and close the doors, while inside police moved local officials and the media into the interior of the building. Police used pepper spray to try to move the crowd away from the doors, according to Kenosha News journalists who were at the scene.
According to the criminal complaint, people in the crowd outside the Safety Building were “yelling, acting in a threatening manner, and throwing objects at officers.” An officer grabbed the door to pull it shut while, according to the complaint, McLemore can be seen on video running toward the door “which is followed by a bang, and then the defendant is retreating, which is consistent with him kicking the door. The defendant then made a comment that he was trying to break the officer’s hands.”
The complaint states that the officer “heard and felt a loud-hard slam against the door” as he pulled it closed.
The felony charge for making a threat against a police officer carries the possibility of up to three years in prison if convicted.