Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old unarmed Black man, was shot in the back by police seemingly 7 times on Sunday afternoon in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Witnesses report that Blake was helping break up a fight and that police attempted to taser him after responding to a domestic disturbance call. In a Twitter video, Blake can be seen walking to the driver’s side of his car. Police follow him, guns drawn. As Blake enters the car, police pull his shirt and then fire their weapons. Blake’s children were inside the car at the time. The Kenosha Police Department reported that officers provided “immediate aid” to Blake, who was airlifted to a Milwaukee hospital. Facebook posts from Blake’s family show that he is now in stable condition.
“That don’t make no sense to treat somebody like that, who is not armed,” said Laquisha Booke, Blake’s fiancé. “That man just literally grabbed him by his shirt and looked the other way and was just shooting him. With the kids in the back screaming. Screaming.”
An investigation into the shooting has been opened by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s criminal investigation division, who will release a report within 30 days. Two police officers involved have been placed on administrative leave as per department policy.
Following the shooting, protesters marched to the Kenosha County Public Safety Building. Police used tear gas and pepper balls were used to dispel them. Buildings and cars were set on fire and a mandatory curfew was implemented.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) released a statement following the shooting: “We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country – lives like those of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, Tony Robinson, Dontre Hamilton, Ernest Lacy, and Sylville Smith. And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites,” said Evers.
Ben Crump, the Blake family’s attorney who is also the attorney for Taylor and Floyd’s families, stated, “I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and our country for far too long.” Of the officers involved, Crump said that “their irresponsible, reckless, and inhumane actions nearly cost the life of a man who was simply trying to do the right thing.”
Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, tweeted of the continued murder of black people by police that “anybody who doesn’t believe we are beyond a state of emergency is choosing to lack empathy and awareness.”
Sources: CNN 8/24/20; CNN 8/24/20; NPR 8/24/20; CBS News 8/24/20; Kenosha News 8/23/20; ABC7 8/24/20; WISN12 8/24/20; Washington Post 8/24/20