While the pain of George Floyd’s death is still fresh, and while those responsible for Breonna Taylor’s death remain at large, police violence in the United States also remains unpunished.
Now, the streets of Kenosha – a city of 100,000 people located on the shores of Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee – are filled with protests and shouts of anger from those claiming the actions of two Wisconsin police officers against Jacob Blake, a black man who was shot multiple times in the back last Sunday night.
According to CNN, Blake, who is in serious condition and fighting for his life, was a victim of police violence when he refused to cooperate with the police officers while entering the door from the driver’s side of an SUV. He was intercepted by law enforcement while he was helping separate a fight between two women nearby.
The images of the violent incident went viral on social media. According to the family’s lawyer, the man’s three children, aged 3, 5 and 8, were able to watch from inside the car as the police officers shot their father.
Shortly before the shooting, Blake, who worked as a security guard, stopped next door at the apartment of a friend, Donnell Lauderdale, according to the New York Times.
“Mr. Blake was carrying gifts for Mr. Lauderdale’s 8-year-old son,” the media explained.
“He had a bag full of presents,” Lauderdale said, standing outside his home. “He’s a family man. He takes good care of his kids.”
The President of the Kenosha Police Professional Association, Pete Deates, argued that the situation was more complicated, as the officers responded to a 911 call reporting a domestic dispute. The officers arrived at 6:11 p.m. ET to a residential street.
As seen in the video, Blake walks around the front of a gray van after what appears to be an altercation with the officers behind him, one of whom points his gun at his back. When the man enters the driver’s side door of his car, the nearest officer grabs him by the shirt, and several gunshots are fired.
“As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident. We ask that you withhold from passing judgment until all the facts are known and released,” Deates argued.
Blake was rushed to the hospital for surgery and is now in intensive care, his family said.
But by the time the video reached social networks, the city’s streets were already in flames, amid protests from a community weary of another, longer-standing epidemic: police violence.
As the BBC explained, hundreds of people marched to police headquarters on Sunday night, setting fire to vehicles and shouting, “We won’t back down.”
The authorities decided to declare an emergency nighttime curfew to protect business premises and stores, and officials resorted to using tear gas to try to disperse protesters who defied the curfew.
However, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers condemned the shooting and assured that Blake was unarmed.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. 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.
For their part, the man’s family has turned to the legal assistance of attorney Benjamin Crump, who also represents the families of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, according to Rolling Stone.
“We will seek justice for Jacob Blake and for his family as we demand answers from the Kenosha Police Department,” he said in a statement. “How many more of these tragic ‘while Black’ tragedies will it take until the racial profiling and undervaluing of Black lives by the police finally stops?”