On Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officers shot 29 year old Jacob Blake in the back – not once or twice but multiple times. They did so just as he was getting into his car, with his three children aged between 5 and 10 sitting in the backseat. Ben Crump, the Blake family’s lawyer, said in a tweet that Jacob’s three small sons “will be traumatized forever”.
Police first arrived at the scene after a 911 call was placed citing a domestic disturbance. The neighbour who filmed the entire altercation says he heard two women arguing across the street. It was at that point Blake showed up and walked into the house, purportedly to break up the argument. A few minutes later, the witness reports the police began to hassle Blake – the reason is unclear. The entire account wraps up with a harrowing scene of the brutal shooting, a clip of which has gone viral on social media. Viewer discretion is advised.
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes, said the following in a video statement on BBC: “The irony isn’t lost on me that Jacob Blake was actually trying to de-escalate a situation in his community but the responding officer didn’t feel the need to do the same.”
He also went on to address the painful reality of how police brutality against the Black community is a long-standing pattern and “familiar violence to too many of us”. Barnes pointed out that this kind of systemic racism would obviously not be easy to eradicate, but the first few steps had to be taken.
According to reports, Jacob Blake has undergone surgery but remains in critical condition.
Following news of the shooting, crowds gathered in front of courthouse in Kenosha for peaceful protests. However, these soon turned chaotic as police showed up to try and disperse the crowd with tear gas. After that, all bets were off. Fires were set throughout the city; many old shops and businesses were burnt down and looted. Meanwhile, protests have also broken out in other parts of the country such as New York and Los Angeles.
An investigation is on-going within the state Justice Department as to what exactly happened between Blake and the officers. Meanwhile, an official from the Kenosha Police Association has appealed to the public to not form any judgments based on the video circulating online.
However, opinions have clearly already been formed and a verdict given. America’s people have seen enough of unexplained police brutality against Black people. With a culture of extreme targeted racism staining U.S. history, asking anyone to withhold judgment at this point actually seems like an admission of guilt by white authority figures.