The governor of Wisconsin deployed the National Guard to the town of Kenosha on Monday, where officers shot a black man from behind as he walked to his car on Sunday night, sparking protests overnight.
In a filmed incident and shared on social networks, Jacob Blake, 29, is seen walking away from several police officers. When he opens the car door, a policeman grabs his shirt and shoots him several times from behind.
Blake is in serious condition in Milwaukee hospital, statement says tweeted by the Kenosha Police Department. Officers were at the scene to respond to a “domestic incident”, police added.
Blake’s family members have said on social networks that he is out of surgery and in stable condition.
Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump said that Blake’s three sons were “just a few yards away” at the time of the shooting.
“Jacob Blake has been shot in the back seven times in front of his children,” said Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. said at a press conference on Monday. “It was no accident. It was not bad police work. It felt like some sort of vendetta against a member of our community. The officer’s murderous actions attempted to kill a person in the middle of it. day.”
Gov. Tony Evers announced that 125 National Guard members would be deployed to Kenosha County by Monday night to “support local law enforcement” after the shooting sparked overnight protests in which the police tear gas used against the demonstrators.
“Every person should be able to express their anger and frustration in exercising their First Amendment rights and report on those calls to action without fear of being in danger,” Evers said in a statement. declaration.
He added that it was a “limited mobilization of the National Guard” which focused on protecting critical infrastructure and ensuring that “the Kenoshians are able to assemble safely.”
Kenosha County declared an emergency curfew for Monday, ordering the public to “get off the streets for their safety” from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Tuesday.
The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, but have not yet been identified by officials.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice said that its Criminal Investigation Division will investigate the shooting.
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice is conducting a vigorous and thorough investigation into yesterday’s shooting by officers in Kenosha,” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement. declaration. “I hope for a full recovery for the man who is fighting for his life.”
Kaul added that the DOJ will work closely with the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office, which will make the decision on whether or not to lay charges in the case.
In one tweet, a man who was identified like Blake’s cousin said Blake was in intensive care.
“We will not apologize for the actions of the Kenosha Police Department, but her mother is asking everyone to be peaceful,” her cousin said.
“No matter what they say, it doesn’t justify shooting my son eight times in the back,” his father, Jacob Blake III, said in an Instagram video.
Blake’s aunt shared her reaction to the video on Facebook, saying, “My nephew. I’m shaking like a leaf but … I’d be too much for any human being. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years. years as a criminal lawyer. Not … even … close. You … wouldn’t shoot a dog like that. My people are looked down upon by the country’s police departments. “
After Sunday’s shooting, Evers said, “We oppose the excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with blacks in Wisconsin,” and pledged action. Monday, Evers ad a special session of the state legislature that will meet on Aug. 31 to revert to a set of laws he previously proposed “to increase accountability and transparency in policing Wisconsin.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called for an “immediate, full and transparent investigation” and for the police to be held accountable.
“Yesterday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back as police tried to stop him from getting into his car. His children were watching him from inside the car and passers-by watched in disbelief. And this morning, the nation wakes up again with sorrow and indignation that another black American is being subjected to excessive force, ”Biden said in a statement. “These blows pierce the soul of our nation.”
People started demonstrating in Kenosha from Sunday evening, and a citywide curfew was issued until 7 a.m., Kenosha police said they received numerous calls armed robberies and shootings. According to the Associated Press, the police used tear gas on the demonstrators who did not leave after the curfew was announced.
In a series of tweets responding to the shooting, David Crowley, the leader of Milwaukee County, said that “as a father of young black children, I understand the fierce urgency in which communities of color are demanding change.”
In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, Crowley offered a scathing critique of “systemic racism” ingrained in state and local institutions.
“Make no mistake, Blake’s injuries are the result of systemic racism, policies and practices that entangle our institutions and produce racially disparate results, regardless of the intentions of those who work there,” the statement said.
Crowley urged state and local leaders to “follow Milwaukee County’s lead in declaring racism a public health crisis.”
“We must listen to the voice of the people and take action to prevent the unnecessary loss of black lives at the hands of the police,” Crowley said in a tweet. “I support my brothers and sisters who stand up for black lives and make their voices heard.”
The events in Kenosha on Sunday night are reminiscent of those seen in other towns where police shot and killed black men and Black Lives Matter protests jumpscares. In nearby Milwaukee, just over 50 km north of Kenosha, huge protests took place in 2016 after a police officer shot dead Sylville Smith, a 23-year-old black man. The policeman was charged, but acquitted at trial.
The majority of black residents of Wisconsin live in Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha.
“They mostly live in black, segregated and heavily controlled communities,” Katherine Hilson, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Carthage College in Kenosha, told BuzzFeed News. “A lot of people have uninvited, repeated and regular contact with the police, and in particular the incidents like we saw yesterday with Jacob Blake, this stuff is what erodes the trust that community members have. with the police. “
In June 2019, Ty Rese West, 18, was shot and killed by a police officer in Mount Pleasant, less than 15 miles from Kenosha. The officer was chasing West at 1:30 a.m. so he wouldn’t have a light on his bike. There was no video of the incident and the officer was not charged.
In April, a Milwaukee police officer on leave choked 25-year-old Joel Acevedo for 10 minutes during a disagreement at the officer’s home after a party. Acevedo died of his injuries several days later and the officer, Michael Mattioli, was charged with reckless first-degree homicide. He’s still on the police payroll.
Hilson pointed out that Kensoha’s protests are not only fueled by frustrations over Blake’s shooting or other incidents of police brutality.
“When you see the unrest and protests and uprisings – and I use those words in particular as opposed to something like a riot, which seems completely out of control and senseless – people react to real things,” Hilson said.
“They don’t just respond to episodic events, which are tragic in themselves,” added the professor. “But they respond to underemployment, unemployment, live in poor conditions, attend and send children to schools which are poor, are subjected to regular police contact which is often intrusive and dehumanizing.”
24 August 2020 at 13:13
Correction: Tony Evers is the governor of Wisconsin. The state was misidentified in an earlier version of this article.
24 August 2020 at 22:13
Correction: The city of Racine, Wisconsin, was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.