The video starts as Jacob Blake rounds the front of a silver SUV on Sunday, with two Kenosha, Wis., police officers following close behind, their guns drawn. When Blake opens the door and steps inside, the officers suddenly fire toward his back — at least seven times.
Blake is now in serious condition, the officers have been placed on administrative leave, and the city of Kenosha declared an emergency curfew after destructive protests rocked the city into early Monday morning.
The video footage quickly spread online. It comes as the country has faced months-long protests spurred by George Floyd’s death in custody in Minneapolis, which set off a nationwide wave of demonstrations against police brutality and for racial justice.
I’m seeing reports that this man has been flown to a nearby hospital in serious condition. He was reportedly breaking up a fight. Unclear what led to police shooting him. https://t.co/6aPXNSgErT
— Morgan Wolfe (@MorganWolfeKSL) August 24, 2020
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) called for greater police accountability as the video spread rapidly through social media.
“While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country,” Evers said in a statement. “We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country.”
The Kenosha shooting made the lakefront city of about 100,000 residents the new epicenter of a movement that has roiled America this summer, ever since the video footage of Floyd, pinned beneath a Minneapolis police officer’s knee and pleading for air, circulated on Memorial Day.
Since then, cities from coast to coast have seen their streets filled with demonstrations, which in some cases have given way to violence and property damage. Activists have called for cities to cut funding to police departments, among other changes. Some officials have vowed to push through reforms, while others — including President Trump and his conservative allies — have pushed back, arguing police are facing unfair criticism.
Former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, said in a statement that the country “wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force.”
“This calls for an immediate, full and transparent investigation and the officers must be held accountable,” Biden said. “These shots pierce the soul of our nation.”
The shooting in Kenosha, a city located between Milwaukee and Chicago, happened after 5 p.m. on Sunday, when officers responded to a domestic incident, police said. Witnesses told the Kenosha News that Blake was trying to break up a fight and that police first attempted to stun him with a Taser.
The video shows neighbors congregated outside as two police officers with their guns drawn followed Blake as he approached the car. As Blake opened the driver’s side door, an officer can be seen tugging at Blake’s white tank top before multiple shots ring out from the police.
Multiple video clips from a bystander show Kenosha, Wis., police shooting Jacob Blake on Aug. 23. (The Washington Post)
Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney who has represented the families of many people shot and killed by police, said Monday that he had been retained by Blake’s family.
Crump said in a statement that Blake’s “three sons witnessed their father collapse after being riddled with bullets.” According to Crump, Blake was “simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident,” and he did not elaborate on what that entailed.
“It’s a miracle he’s still alive,” Crump said.
Police have not commented on what led to the shooting. Blake was taken by helicopter to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, police said. Early Monday, TMJ4 reported that Blake’s brother said he is out of surgery and in intensive care.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice will investigate the shooting, officials said.
As footage of Blake’s shooting spread on social media, a crowd gathered at the intersection where he was shot. Tensions quickly rose as more police officers arrived wearing riot gear and several police cars were damaged. A video shows one police officer being hit with a brick and collapsing.
The group eventually moved away from the intersection. A live stream of a march through Kenosha showed hundreds eventually congregating and chanting outside the Kenosha County Public Safety Building after 10 p.m.
Shortly afterward, the city declared a state of emergency and instituted a curfew until 7 a.m. Monday. A public safety alert suggested that 24-hour businesses close “due to numerous armed robberies and shots fired calls.”
Police soon arrived with riot gear and armed with rubber bullets, and eventually sprayed tear gas at the crowd. Some protesters targeted garbage trucks that had been parked to block traffic, shattering the truck’s windows and setting them ablaze.
After midnight, the crowds moved toward the courthouse, and someone set a fire outside the building, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Police put out the fire and launched more tear gas. Another live stream recorded people breaking into a nearby government building and shattering the glass doors and windows from the inside.
Just past 1 a.m., police requested that protesters leave the area, the Journal Sentinel reported, before firing more tear gas. About 20 minutes later, police formed a riot line and moved people out of the park.
After 2 a.m., someone set fire to a car outside a dealership. By 2:40 a.m., black smoke billowed toward the sky as car after car burst into flames. An hour later, the fire continued to spread, threatening to burn a church behind the dealership.
Video of Blake’s shooting ignited widespread outrage and inspired a smaller protest in Madison. Julián Castro, former San Antonio mayor and Democratic presidential candidate, questioned whether the police had considered “nonlethal methods.”
“Why didn’t officers physically restrain him? Or use their tasers? Or disable the vehicle?” Castro added.
Bernice King, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter and the chief executive of the King Center, said on Twitter she was dismayed to see another video of a Black person being “brutalized and/or gunned down by police.”
“Anybody who doesn’t believe we are beyond a state of emergency is choosing to lack empathy and awareness,” King said.
See video below:
— chrizi (@nolimitchrizi) August 23, 2020
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