Protesters, police clash a second night in Kenosha, Wis., after shooting of Black man
Anger over the shooting of a Black man by police spilled into the streets of Kenosha, Wis., 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 has become the nation’s latest flash point in a summer of racial unrest after cellphone footage of police shooting Jacob Blake — apparently in the back, as he leaned into his SUV while his three children sat in the vehicle — circulated widely on social media Sunday.
The 29-year-old was hospitalized in serious condition. His father told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was informed his son was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot eight times during the confrontation with police. The father, also named Jacob Blake, said that his son now had “eight holes” in his body and that doctors did not know if the paralysis would be permanent.
The shooting drew condemnation from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who also 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 p.m. curfew took effect to disperse protesters who chanted, “No justice, no peace,” as they confronted a line of officers in protective gear standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the courthouse entrance. But hundreds of people stuck around, screaming at police and lighting fires, including setting fire to a garbage truck near the courthouse.
Tensions had flared anew earlier Monday after a news conference with Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, originally to be held in a park, was moved inside the city’s public safety building. Hundreds of 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.
Blake’s shooting occurred after police in Kenosha, a former auto-manufacturing center of 100,000 people midway between Milwaukee and Chicago, responded Sunday afternoon to what they said was a call about a domestic dispute.
Authorities on Thursday released body-camera video, which police say shows Anthony McClain was armed with a gun while running away from officers.
They did not immediately disclose the race of the three officers at the scene or say whether Blake was armed or why police opened fire, and they released no details on the domestic dispute.
A man who said he made the 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 was still being investigated by the state Justice Department.
The officers were placed on administrative leave, which is standard practice in a shooting by police.
Evers was quick to condemn the bloodshed, saying that, although 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.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called for “an immediate, full and transparent investigation” and 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, Ky. “Those shots pierce the soul of our nation.”
A year after Elijah McClain was stopped by police in suburban Denver, people are celebrating his life as well as calling for justice over his death.
Republicans and the police union accused the politicians of rushing to judgment, reflecting the deep partisan divide in Wisconsin, a key presidential battleground state. Wisconsin GOP members also decried the violent protests, echoing the law-and-order theme that President 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 called the governor’s statement “wholly irresponsible.”
The shooting happened around 5 p.m. Sunday and was captured from across the street on video that was posted online. Kenosha police do not have body cameras but do have body microphones.
In the footage, Blake walks from the sidewalk around the front of his SUV to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns pointed and shouting 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 officers fired. During the shooting, a Black woman can be seen screaming in the street and jumping up and down.
White, who claimed to have made the video, said that before the gunfire, he looked out his window and saw six or seven women shouting at one another on the sidewalk. A few moments later, Blake drove up in his SUV and told his son, who was standing nearby, to get in the vehicle, according to White. White said Blake did not say anything to the women.
White said he left the window for a few minutes, and when he came back, he saw three officers wrestling with Blake. One punched Blake in the ribs, and another used a stun gun on him, White said. He said Blake got free and started walking away as officers yelled about a knife.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, representing Blake’s family, said Blake was “simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident.”
Police did not immediately confirm either man’s account.
Online court records indicate Kenosha County prosecutors charged Blake on July 6 with sexual assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct in connection with domestic abuse. An arrest warrant was issued the following day. The records contain no further details and do not list an attorney for Blake.
It was unclear whether that case had anything to do with the shooting.
Blake’s partner, Laquisha Booker, told NBC’s Milwaukee affiliate, WTMJ-TV, that the couple’s three children were in the back seat of the SUV when police shot him.
“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,” Booker said.
Crump, who has also represented the Floyd and Taylor families, called the police officers’ actions “irresponsible, reckless and inhumane” and added: “It’s a miracle he’s still alive.”
In the unrest that followed Sunday night, social media posts showed neighbors gathering in the streets and shouting at police. Others appeared to throw objects at officers and damage police vehicles. Officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.
In a scene that mirrored the widespread protests in recent months over police brutality and racial inequality, marchers headed to the Kenosha County Public Safety Building, which houses the police and sheriff’s departments. Authorities mostly blocked off the building, which officials said was closed on Monday because of damage.
For more than 100 years, Kenosha was an auto manufacturing center, but it has now largely been transformed into a bedroom community for Milwaukee and Chicago. The city is about 67% white, 11.5% Black and 17.6% Latino, according to 2019 Census data. Both the mayor and police chief are white. About 17% of the population lives in poverty.
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