“My son was left paralyzed from the waist down”, said the father of Jacob Blake, the latest Black man to suffer police brutality in the United States, when he was shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin,
Blake’s father told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was told his son was shot eight times during the Sunday evening confrontation with police, which was captured on cellphone video and led to two nights of unrest in the city between Milwaukee and Chicago.
The man, who also has the same name as the son (Jacob Blake) said he was driving from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Kenosha to be with his son, before he learned Sunday night that officers had shot him eight times and that he saw the now-viral video of it online a few minutes later that appears to show police shoot his son in the back.
According to Blake senior, his son now has “eight holes” in his body and is paralyzed from the waist down, though doctors don’t know if the paralysis will be permanent.
Following the shooting, people’s anger spilled into the streets of Kenosha for a second night Monday, with police again firing tear gas at hundreds of protesters who defied a curfew, threw bottles and shot fireworks at law enforcement guarding the courthouse. The southeastern Wisconsin city became the nation’s latest flashpoint in a summer of racial unrest after cellphone footage of police shooting Blake as he leaned into his SUV – apparently while three of his children were sitting in the vehicle – circulated widely on social media.
Further reports about the incident indicated that the 29-year-old was hospitalised in serious condition.
Tony Evers, the Democratic Governor of the area, seriously condemned the shooting, while he called out 125 members of the National Guard on Monday after protesters set cars on fire, smashed windows and clashed with officers in riot gear the previous night.
Police first fired tear gas Monday about 30 minutes after the 8 pm curfew took effect to disperse protesters who chanted, “No justice, no peace” as they confronted a line of officers who wore protective gear and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the courthouse entrance.
Earlier on Monday tensions again flared anew after a news conference with Kenosha Mayor John Antarmian, originally to be held in a park, was moved inside the city’s public safety building.
Several protesters rushed to the building and a door was snapped off its hinges before police in riot gear pepper-sprayed the crowd, which included a photographer from The Associated Press. Police in the former auto manufacturing center of 100,000 people midway between Milwaukee and Chicago said they were responding to a call about a domestic dispute when they encountered Blake on Sunday.
They did not say whether Blake was armed or why police opened fire, they released no details on the dispute, and they did not immediately disclose the race of the three officers at the scene. The man who said he made the cellphone video, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before the gunfire erupted.
He said he didn’t see a knife in Blake’s hands. The governor said he had seen no information to suggest Blake had a knife or other weapon, but that the case is still being investigated by the state Justice Department.
The officers were placed on administrative leave, which is standard practice in a shooting by police. Authorities released no details about the officers and did not immediately respond to requests for their service records. Evers was quick to condemn the bloodshed, saying that while not all details were known, “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.”
Responding to the incident, the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said the officers “must be held accountable.” “This morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force,” he said, just over two months before Election Day in a country already roiled by the recent deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Those shots pierce the soul of our nation.”
The police union together with Republicans accused the politicians of rushing to judgment, reflecting the deep partisan divide in Wisconsin, a key presidential battleground state.
Also in their reaction, Wisconsin GOP members decried the violent protests, echoing the law-and-order theme that President Donald Trump has been using in his reelection campaign. “As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident,” Pete Deates, president of the Kenosha police union, said in a statement.
He went further to describe the governor’s statement as “wholly irresponsible.” The shooting happened around 5 p.m. Sunday and was captured from across the street on the video posted online. Kenosha police do not have body cameras but do have body microphones.
Scene in the video footage show Blake walking from the sidewalk around the front of his SUV to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns pointed and shout at him. As Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire while Blake has his back turned. Seven shots can be heard, though it isn’t clear how many struck Blake or how many