Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was shot seven times in the back by police officers on Sunday evening as he attempted to enter his own car.
A video circulating on social media shows Blake walking toward his car while officers follow him with their guns drawn. Blake opens his car door and enters the vehicle when one of the officers pulls back on his shirt. He is then shot multiple times in the back, while witnesses at the scene scream in shock.
Blake’s three sons were reportedly in the vehicle when he was shot.
Gov. Tony Evers (D-Wisconsin) reacted to news of the shooting. “While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that [Blake] 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 wrote.
Police had arrived on the scene in response to reports of a domestic dispute. Blake was not one of the two parties directly involved in that altercation, but he had attempted to break up a fight between two women before police arrived, witnesses to the events said. He did not act aggressively toward either of the officers and was not armed with a gun or any other weapon, they added.
After he was shot, Blake was rushed to a hospital in Milwaukee, where he was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit. As of Monday morning, he was removed from the ICU and reported to be in stable condition.
Crowds gathered near the scene where Blake was shot, and protests began later that evening. Small fires were set in the streets, and there were reports of protesters causing property damage. A city dump truck was set ablaze and a courthouse building downtown was covered with graffiti condemning the violence of the police.
Local media also reported that law enforcement used tear gas on protesters in an attempt to break up the demonstrations.
Benjamin Crump, the lawyer representing George Floyd’s family, said that Blake’s sons “will be traumatized forever” after witnessing their father being shot, adding, “We cannot let officers violate their duty to PROTECT us. Our kids deserve better!!”
Clint Smith, who writes for The Atlantic, expressed his frustration at witnessing another instance of an unarmed Black person being shot.
“I’m sad. I’m furious. I’m tired of seeing this happen over and over and over and over and over again,” Smith said.
“Our lives have so little value that ofcrs are using fatal gunshots as a shortcut to talking, negotiation, disabling vehicles,” Sherrilyn Ifill, President of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, tweeted. “It’s shorter; the ofcr doesn’t have to get physically involved; and the result is guaranteed.”
Wisconsin law dictates that all police-perpetrated shootings must be investigated by the state Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). “All involved law enforcement are fully cooperating with DCI during this investigation,” a statement from the department read. “The involved officers have been placed on administrative leave.”
Even as that investigation has begun, many are demanding that the officers involved in Blake’s shooting be issued criminal charges. A Change.org petition with those demands garnered more than 27,000 signatures as of 9:45 am Central Time.
“The cops who shot him need to be charged with at least attempted murder,” that petition reads. “Jacob Blake needs our help fighting for justice.”