Protests erupt after Wisconsin police shoot Black man

Published 8:06 am Monday, August 24, 2020

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KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Police in the southeastern Wisconsin city of Kenosha shot and wounded a Black man, apparently in the back, after responding to a call about a domestic dispute, setting off a night of protests and unrest in which officers fired tear gas and demonstrators apparently hurled objects and set fire to parked cars.

The shooting happened at around 5 p.m. Sunday and was captured on cellphone video that was posted online. In that clip, which was taken from across the street, the Black man, who was later referred to by the governor as Jacob Blake, walks from the sidewalk around the front of his SUV to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns pointed and shout at him. As Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire while Blake has his back turned.

Seven shots can be heard, though it isn’t clear how many struck Blake or how many of the three officers who were at the scene fired shots. During the shooting, a Black woman can be seen screaming in the street and jumping up and down.

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Blake was taken to a Milwaukee hospital and was in serious condition, the police department said in a news release in which it didn’t refer to him by name. The three officers were placed on administrative leave, as is standard practice in any officer-involved shooting.

The shooting sparked unrest in the city of roughly 100,000 people, which is along Lake Michigan and between Milwaukee and Chicago. By late Sunday, multiple vehicles were set ablaze and windows were smashed along city thoroughfares as crowds faced off with law enforcement.

Officers in riot gear stood in lines and SWAT vehicles remained on the streets to move people away from city buildings despite the declaration of an overnight curfew. Tear gas was used to disperse groups of people, according to reporters at the scene.

Gov. Tony Evers issued a statement late Sunday condemning the shooting of the man, whom he identified as Blake, saying in a statement that “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 Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is investigating the shooting, did not release any details about the officers who were involved except to say they had been placed on administrative leave.

Following the shooting, social media posts showed neighbors gathering in the surrounding streets and shouting at police. Some could be heard chanting “no justice, no peace,” while others appeared to throw objects at officers and damage police vehicles.

Laquisha Booker, who is Blake’s partner, told NBC’s Milwaukee affiliate, WTMJ-TV, that her and Blake’s three children were in the back seat of the SUV when police shot him.

“That man just literally grabbed him by his shirt and looked the other way and was just shooting him. With the kids in the back screaming. Screaming,” Booker said.

Later Sunday, in a scene that mirrored the widespread protests over the police shootings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people, marchers headed to the Kenosha County Public Safety Building, which houses the police and county sheriff’s departments. Authorities mostly blocked off the building, and some officers were positioned on the roof as protesters marched beside lines of honking cars as they made their way to the building.

Outside the station, protesters clashed with officers dressed in riot gear, including plastic face masks, who occasionally used their shields and batons to push people back.

The building was closed on Monday because it had been damaged, authorities said.

Evers, meanwhile, indicated that he intends to take further action over the shooting.

“I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action,” the Democratic governor said. “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.”