Jacob Blake was preparing to celebrate his son's eighth birthday Sunday when Kenosha police shot him in the back, firing at least seven times, in front of his three children. The shooting paralyzed the 29-year-old security guard from the waist down, his father told the Chicago Sun-Times. “What justified all those shots?” the elder Jacob Blake asked. “What justified doing that in front of my grandsons? What are we doing?”
Raysean White, the man who recorded police in now-viral cellphone video, told the Wisconsin State Journal he saw Blake "scuffling with" three cops and later heard them yell, "Drop the knife! Drop the knife!" Not only did White say he didn’t see a knife, Gov. Tony Evers told the newspaper that he hasn’t seen any information to indicate Blake had a knife or any other weapon.
“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 Twitter thread.
Blake’s family has retained renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump as legal counsel. Crump said in a news release Monday that the younger Jacob Blake was “helping to deescalate a domestic incident when police drew their weapons and tasered him … As he was walking away to check on his children, police fired their weapons several times into his back at point blank range,” Crump said. “Blake’s three sons were only a few feet away and witnessed police shoot their father.”
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the shooting. “As with all investigations we conduct, we will unwaveringly pursue justice in this case,” Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement Monday. “I hope for a full recovery for the man fighting for his life. He and his family are in my thoughts, as is the entire Kenosha community.”
Blake’s shooting has inspired hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters to demonstrate in a demand for justice in Wisconsin and across the country. On the second night of protests Monday, frustrations seemed to reach a boiling point, which local law enforcement authorities responded to with a showing of force.
Authorities wore riot gear and drove armored vehicles to respond to demonstrators who had broken an 8 PM curfew Evers put into effect, CBS Milwaukee affiliate WDJT-TV reported. He also called in the National Guard in a move that ended with police firing tear gas. Protesters also shot fireworks and threw bottles at officials guarding the Kenosha County Courthouse, WDJT reported.
Justin Blake, Jacob Blake's uncle, told CNN while the family supports the protests, it doesn't condone violence. "We want justice, and we're going to get justice," he said. "We're going to demand justice, but we're going to do that without tearing up our own communities."
NBA star LeBron James, an outspoken advocate for racial justice, said his “emotions are all over the place" after seeing the viral video of Blake shot. "If you're sitting here telling me that there was no way to subdue that gentleman, or detain him, or before the firing of guns, then you're sitting here, you're lying to not only me, you're lying to every African American, every Black person in the community because we see it over and over and over," James said at a press conference Monday.
"If you watch the video, there [were] multiple moments where if they wanted to they could have tackled him. They could have grabbed him. They could have done that. Why does it always have to get to a point where we see the guns firing? His family is there. His kids are there. It's in broad daylight.”
James wondered whether the public would even know it happened if bystanders hadn’t recorded the encounter. “It's just, quite frankly, it's just f**ked up in our community," he said.
Chris Paul, another star NBA player, used the 15 seconds he had to talk to a reporter after a playoff game to send prayers to the Blake family and encourage the public and other players to vote. “Sports is cool. It’s good and well. It’s how we take care of our families, but those are the real issues that we got to start addressing,” he said.
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