Riots erupt in Kenosha over Jacob Blake shooting, curfew declared after cars set on fire, courthouse vandalized
KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Riots and protesters erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin hours after police officers were filmed shooting an unarmed Black man at least seven times in the back as he attempted to enter his vehicle with his children inside. Large crowds accumulated outside the Kenosha police station on Sunday, August 23, and protesters clashed with police officers at the scene of Jacob Blake's shooting.
The fresh protests come just three months after the 46-year-old George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed in police custody as an officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes in May.
Monday's riots in Wisconson also saw vehicles being set on fire and there were reports of looting, with some people vandalizing the courthouse, a scene reminiscent of the public outrage following George's death in Minneapolis. Kenosha Police, on Monday, confirmed the officer-involved shooting after they were called to reports of a domestic incident at 5:11 p.m. at the 2800 block of 40th Street on Sunday. Witnesses reportedly said that the Black man, identified as 29-year-old Blake, had stepped out of his vehicle to break up a fight between two women.
After being shot reported by police, Blake was taken to Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee in a serious condition. A video of the shooting, which was widely shared on social media, appeared to show the moment of the shooting. The video shows Blake walking away from at least three police officers as they point their gun at him. As the 29-year-old attempts to enter his SUV, one of the officers grabs his tank top and pulls him back. Multiple shots are then heard as witnesses scream out in shock. It is not yet clear whether one or more officers fired the shots at Blake.
Ben Crump, a lawyer representing Floyd's family — and now Blake's — also shared the footage of the shooting online, stating that Blake's three children were inside the car at the time of the shooting. He also added that eyewitnesses said that Blake was trying to break up a fight between two women before police intervened. An investigation into the shooting has been launched by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).
Wow. This Black man was shot several times in the back by @KenoshaPolice today. He was getting into his car after apparently breaking up a fight between two women. He’s in critical condition now. We demand JUSTICE! #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/I1reDEp4nw— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) August 24, 2020
"Confirmed: Jacob Blake’s 3 SONS were IN THE CAR he was getting into when @KenoshaPolice shot him tonight. They saw a cop shoot their father. They will be traumatized forever. We cannot let officers violate their duty to PROTECT us. Our kids deserve better!! #JusticeForJacobBlake," Crump wrote.
The incident sparked widespread disorder across the region, with reports of patrol vehicles being targeted and police using tear gas to break up enraged crowds. As the riots escalated in the area, Kenosha County declared a state of emergency curfew. The Kenosha County Sheriff's Department, in a statement, said that the curfew will be in effect until 7 AM on Monday. "The public needs to be off the streets for their safety," the Sheriff's Office said.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers also released a statement condemning the shooting, saying Blake was shot "in the back multiple times, in broad daylight." "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," the governor said.
"We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country—lives like those of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, Tony Robinson, Dontre Hamilton, Ernest Lacy, and Sylville Smith. And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites," Evers added. "I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and our country for far too long."