KENOSHA, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Protests and national outrage have erupted after police in Kenosha, Wis., shot a Black man multiple times in the back.
The man, who has been identified as 29-year-old Jacob Blake, is in serious condition after being transported to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, according to police reports. As news of the event spread — including through a graphic video apparently filmed by a bystander across the street — crowds gathered in Kenosha to face off with police overnight.
The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave as the investigation has been turned over to the state’s Department of Justice. And further protests are expected across Wisconsin as nationwide calls of #JusticeForJacobBlake have spread on social media.
According to the Kenosha Police Department, at 5:11 p.m., officers were called to the 2800 block of 40th Street in response to a “domestic incident.”
The police have not yet offered more details on the incident, but witnesses told the Kenosha News that Blake had been on the scene trying to break up a fight between two women.
The widely shared video, which appears to be filmed through a window across the street, shows a man walking toward a car as two officers follow him, weapons drawn. As the man opens the driver’s side door to enter the car, one officer pulls the back of his shirt to stop him and begins to fire. Seven shots can be heard.
Kenosha Police report that the officers provided immediate aid after the shooting.
According to civil rights attorney Ben Crump — who has been retained by Jacob Blake’s family and also leads the legal team for George Floyd’s family — Blake’s three sons were inside the car when the shooting occurred. The children are aged 8, 5, and 3, Crump confirmed to CNN on Monday afternoon.
“We all watched the horrific video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back several times by Kenosha police,” Crump said in a statement issued Monday morning. “Even worse, his three sons witnessed their father collapse after being riddled with bullets.”
Police reports say Blake was airlifted to Milwaukee via Flight for Life.
As of early Monday morning, Blake’s brother reported on Twitter that Blake was out of surgery and in the ICU.
Jacob is out of surgery and In ICU. We will continue to pray as he fights. We will not excuse the actions of the Kenosha Police department, but his mother asks everyone to please remain peaceful.— Pauly (@PaulyG103) August 24, 2020
The incident is under investigation by the state Justice Department’s Division of Criminal Investigation. In a news release, the DCI stated it would aim to provide a report to the prosecutor within 30 days, at which point the prosecutor would decide whether to press charges.
“DCI is continuing to review evidence and determine the facts of this incident and will turn over investigative reports to a prosecutor following a complete and thorough investigation,” according to the release.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Kenosha on Sunday night after news of the event began to spread.
Videos show protesters facing off with police officers near the scene of the shooting.
Crowds later gathered around the Kenosha County Courthouse, where multiple garbage trucks, put in place as barriers by police, were set on fire. Small flames were burning in front of the courthouse as well and some protesters spray painted messages on the building. The courthouse was closed Monday due to damage sustained in the unrest, according to Kenosha County.
A few hundred now gathered in the street in front of the #Kenosha Court House. Fireworks are being thrown. One of the garbage trucks placed as a barrier by police just blew up. @SpectrumNews1WI pic.twitter.com/IyjbI5jNz2— Michelle London (@MichelleDLondon) August 24, 2020
The county declared an overnight emergency curfew from 10:15 p.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday. Most of the protesters dispersed after officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds late Sunday night.
On Monday morning, firefighters were on the scene in Kenosha working to clean up damage from the protests, including to a used car lot where fires had broken out.
Firefighters are still on the scene in #Kenosha, Wisconsin this morning.— Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin (@SpectrumNews1WI) August 24, 2020
Here is some of the damage from around the city overnight. Everything you need to know: https://t.co/UVLBrmdO8T pic.twitter.com/LDs2kijRxr
Bradford Community Church, which sits next to the car lot, did not see damage to its building but lost its road sign — which had “Black Lives Matter” on it — in the fire.
“Despite the fact that we cannot condone violent response to injustice, we understand and appreciate the anger and frustration that fueled the events of last night,” church leaders wrote in a Facebook post. “While we are relieved that our church home mostly survived the inferno in the lot next door, we affirm that we would rather lose 100 buildings than one more life to police violence.”
The shooting quickly drew responses from public figures across Wisconsin and the rest of the U.S.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers released a statement Sunday night pledging to demand action from “elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and our country for far too long.”
“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,” Evers said in the statement.
On Monday, Evers announced he was calling a special session of the state legislature, which will convene next week to take up a series of measures on police accountability and transparency.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden released his own statement calling for a thorough investigation of this incident and a reckoning with broader issues of racial injustice.
“We are at an inflection point,” Biden said in the statement. “We must dismantle systemic racism. It is the urgent task before us.”
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley also expressed the need for change and his solidarity with “my brothers and sisters who are standing up for Black lives and making their voices heard.” And Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic Party Wisconsin, called the shooting “a symptom of the deadly disease of white supremacy and racism that must be confronted and defeated.”
Other statements called for restraint. The Milwaukee Police Association, specifically calling out Evers, urged politicians to hold off on rushing to judgment, which they said “will only fuel the cause of others to protest in a manner that isn’t peaceful.”
Both of Wisconsin’s senators — Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Ron Johnson — called for protesters to remain peaceful as the investigation proceeds.
“While emotions are understandably running high in the Kenosha community and elsewhere, I urge any demonstrators to remain peaceful and give our justice system the opportunity to work,” Johnson said in his statement.
More protests expected
Various groups have already announced plans to protest across Wisconsin on Monday.
Organizers in Fon du Lac, Oshkosh, and Appleton have publicized plans to protest and demand justice for Blake.
Several rallies have also been announced throughout the day in Kenosha — including a peaceful rally outside of City Hall this evening. Protesters from Manitowoc and Milwaukee are planning car caravans to drive to Kenosha and join in demonstrations there.
Kenosha County has declared another emergency curfew for Monday night, starting at 8 p.m. and lasting until 7 a.m. on Tuesday. The county has also called in support from the National Guard. Evers said 125 members of the National Guard are expected to arrive in the city by night and will be "guarding infrastructure and making sure our firefighters and others involved are protected," the Associated Press reports.
A GoFundMe campaign was also launched Monday to support Blake’s family, which six hours after its creation had raised more than $200,000.
“As we fight for Justice and understanding, our family has and will face many trials during this time,” organizers wrote in the GoFundMe description. “Jacob Blake is a loving father of 6 that deserves proper medical attention and legal representation.”
Kenosha officials hold press conference
On Monday afternoon, Kenosha officials held a brief press conference to provide updates on the situation alongside representatives.
The conference was planned to be held outside at Civic Center Park, but moved indoors to the Kenosha Public Safety Building at the last minute. Some of the protesters gathered outside the building were pepper sprayed.
At the conference, the Kenosha County District Attorney said possible charges in the case will come “as soon as possible.”
Officials said the Kenosha Police Department will not get body cameras until 2022. Mayor John Antaramian did not say whether dash cam video from the shooting was available.
One officer was injured by a brick in Sunday’s civil unrest and is doing well, according to officials. An unknown number of people were arrested at the protests, they said.