Protests broke out across Kenosha, Wis., Sunday night after police officers shot a Black man at least seven times in the back earlier that evening. Though the man, identified by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers as Jacob Blake, survived the shooting, he remained in serious condition as of Monday morning.
The confrontation began around 5 p.m. in a residential neighborhood, reports the Kenosha News. Witnesses told the local paper that Blake was breaking up a verbal argument between two women when officers arrived on the scene. Police attempted to taser Blake at first, witnesses say.
A video posted online of the shooting shows Blake, wearing a white tank top, walking away from police officers toward his silver SUV. As he approaches his driver’s side door, two cops follow close behind, their guns already drawn. When Blake opens the car door, the officer nearest him lunges for his shirt, pulling it back before he unloads a series of shots at Blake’s back. A second officer also appears to shoot at Blake as shouts from onlookers erupt on the street.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Blake had three sons sitting in the car at the time of the shooting.
While Blake was airlifted to a nearby hospital to receive emergency surgery, anger continued to bubble over on the street where he was shot. After word spread of the shooting online and in the city, protesters converged on the scene, as did police in riot gear, reports the Washington Post. As the night wore on, police sprayed tear gas on demonstrators, who took out their rage on surrounding property. The New York Times, citing social media videos of the protests, reports that empty vehicles were set on fire.
In response to the protests, the Kenosha officials issued a citywide curfew at midnight lasting until 7 a.m. Monday morning. The town’s courthouse also remains closed today due to “damage sustained during last night’s civil unrest,” writes the Times.
The officers involved in Blake’s shooting are now on leave, and the state’s Department of Justice will be responsible for investigating the violent altercation.
“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,” Gov. Evers said in a statement shared on Twitter on Sunday night. “We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country.”
Activists and politicians from across the country also weighed in as news traveled of the shooting.
“Our lives have so little value that [officers] are using fatal gunshots as a shortcut to talking, negotiation, disabling vehicles,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, tweeted in response to the shooting. “It’s shorter; the [officer] doesn’t have to get physically involved; and the result is guaranteed.”
Wisconsin’s Department of Justice said it “aims to provide” a report of the shooting to the prosecutor within 30 days to determine whether charges should be filed.
The Milwaukee Freedom Fund, which raised millions of dollars in bailout money for Minneapolis protesters jailed during the uprising that followed George Floyd’s death earlier this year said it is working to bail out people arrested during last night’s uprising.