Protests have once again sprung up throughout the U.S. after the police shooting of yet another Black man, Jacob Blake.
On August 23rd, 2020 in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, Jacob S. Blake, a 29-year-old African-American, was shot by officer Rusten Sheskey seven times in the back. The shooting came only three months after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
A video of the altercation between Blake and Sheskey went viral that same day. It showed Blake walking away from officers, who had their weapons drawn, while bystanders watched and yelled in the background. Blake proceeds to walk around his gray SUV, open the door and lean inside. That’s when the officer grabs him by his shirt and proceeds to shoot him in the back seven times.
An officer can be heard yelling “Drop the knife!” yet there is no indication in the video that Blake is holding anything. Blake’s three sons, ages 3, 5, and 8, were in the backseat of the car.
Blake survived the encounter with police. He is however, paralyzed from the waist down. As of August, Blake is currently undergoing several surgeries.
According to CBS News:
“The medical diagnosis right now is that he is paralyzed and because those bullets severed his spinal cord and shattered some of his vertebrae… it is going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr. to ever walk again,” Crump said. “He is currently in surgery as we speak, still struggling to sustain his life and to hopefully become some resemblance of the man he once was.”
It is unclear whether the woman was referring to Blake.
According to a separate CNN report, witness Raysean White, who made the original recording, was across the street and says he heard two women arguing when Blake arrived on the scene, attempting to break up the fight. What started that altercation is unknown. But what is certain is that police responded and arrived at the scene.
Since then, officer Sheskey has been placed on “administrative leave,” along with several other officers who were also involved.
The Kenosha Police Department does not wear body cameras, so the only video evidence of the incident is sparse.
Blake, who grew up in Chicago, comes from a family of activists. “His grandfather, the Rev. Jacob Blake Sr., led the fight for fair housing in Evanston throughout the 1960s and ’70s and led the Ebenezer AME Church congregation. He organized marches following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that eventually led Evanston City Council members to ban racial discrimination in housing,” according to CNN.
In response to the shooting, the Wisconsin Department of Justice is pursuing an investigation, which has uncovered conflicting details.
For example, Blake, in an interview, confessed that he had a knife on the floor of his car. But it is unclear whether the responding officers actually knew about the knife.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Attorney General Josh Kaul in a news conference was asked repeatedly about it and declined to be more specific.”
However, CNN reports that the police union attempted to defend themselves by spreading a different narrative:
“Nearly a week after the shooting, the police union said Blake fought officers and refused to drop a knife he was carrying. Blake’s family, his lawyer and the man who recorded a video that captured part of the encounter refuted that account. Jacob Blake Sr. said his son only retreated to remove his children from harm’s way.”
Blake’s family has been involved on social media and with several news outlets.
Hours after Blake was shot, he told his mother, Julia Jackson, he was sorry. “I don’t want to be a burden on anybody. I want my babies. Call my boss,” Jackson recalls him telling her. His sisters, Zietha Blake and Megan Belcher, have been especially vocal in this situation. They said to CNN, “That’s just the kind of man Blake’s family says he is. He’s a father, a son, an uncle and a brother who’s focused on his loved ones.”
The shooting has prompted protests, starting in Kenosha, and now spreading throughout the country. In Kenosha, there has been looting, torched cars, and buildings set ablaze. However, as it so happens at several other protests throughout the summer, there also occurs peaceful Black Lives Matter protests, where violence has been incited by the cops as a result of their presence.
As a result, on Tuesday, August 25th, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency.
Blake’s mother called for peace during the unrest. “As I was riding through […] this city, I noticed a lot of damage that doesn’t reflect my son or my family,” she told CNN. “If Jacob knew what was going on as far as that goes, the violence and the destruction, he would be very unpleased.”
Public figures have shown their support for Blake since the protests began. Basketball team, The Milwaukee Bucks, boycotted a playoff game against the Orlando Magics that was supposed to take place on August 26th at Disney World, ultimately breaking their contract with the NBA. The NBA announced it would postpone Game Five in response to the boycott, which was backed and applauded by several public figures, such as former President Barack Obama.
Written by Mandy Figueroa | Cover Image via CNN
To help seek justice for Jacob Blake and get the cops who were involved convicted, sign the petition at: Change.org