Jacob Blake, a Black man and father of six, survived multiple gunshot wounds after a Kenosha police officer opened fire on him at point-blank range after 5 p.m. Sunday night, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Blake’s father told the Sun Times that his 29-year-old son will now be paralyzed from the waist down and has “eight holes,” in his body.
Following the shooting, two nights of protests erupted in Kenosha leaving the streets engulfed in flames. Some fires spanned as far as half a city block, according to a live stream on Facebook. The city declared a state of emergency and issued a curfew in response to the civil unrest.
“Those police officers that shot my son like a dog in the street are responsible for everything that has happened in the city of Kenosha,” Blake’s father, also named Jacob Blake, told the Sun Times. “My son is not responsible for it. My son didn’t have a weapon. He didn’t have a gun.”
“I do not have a problem with going down there and expressing anger on they sh*t because they don’t have a problem with doing it to us,” SeMarice, 33, told ESSENCE. Born and raised in Kenosha, SeMarice lives in the same neighborhood where Blake assaulted. On Sunday, SeMarice left her home around 8 p.m. to find tension brewing between the police and her neighbors.
“You can tell they was trying to get us to react,” SeMarice said of the police, who quickly descended on her block, dressed in full riot gear, shortly after Blake was accosted by officers.
“It’s sad when you look up and down the street and you see what’s supposed to be “protect and serve,” looks like the army,” said SeMarice, who asked that her last name remain undisclosed.
A now-viral cell phone video of the incident shows Blake, in a white tank and black shorts, walking around a gray trunk while being trailed by two officers, each with a gun pointed at the man. As Blake reaches to open the door to the driver’s side of the car, one officer is seen grabbing his shirt and opening fire. Blake was reportedly breaking up a dispute when the police were called to the scene.
According to police scanner audio obtained by Madison365, there were five minutes between the police being dispatched to the scene and the sound of gunshots ringing off. Prominent trial lawyer Ben Crump confirmed on Twitter that three of Blake’s sons were in the car when he was accosted by the police.
“We’re being hunted down like we’re animals,” Tiffany Tardy, 34, told ESSENCE. Tardy, of Milwaukee, is one of many protesters who traveled to Kenosha to support Monday’s protest. Al Rogers, an organizer from Waukegan, Illinois, said he’s thankful that Blake is alive but came to Monday’s demonstration to demand that the cops involved be held accountable.
“There’s something to be said about no justice, no peace,” Rogers told ESSENCE. “This is what happens when there’s no justice. I don’t know how they’re going to resolve this.”
“No matter what his circumstances was, don’t nobody deserve to be shot seven times,” SeMarice said.
The DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation of the shooting alongside the state patrol and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department. DCI has 30 days to turn over its findings to the prosecutor on the case. The names of the police officers involved have yet to be officially released by the police department.
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice is vigorously and thoroughly investigating yesterday’s officer-involved shooting in Kenosha. As with all investigations we conduct, we will unwaveringly pursue justice in this case,” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement.
One feature that won’t be reviewed in the investigation is body camera footage. The officers involved in the shooting were not equipped with body cameras. Following protests over the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in July, the Kenosha County Board voted 22-0 to include body cameras for the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department in next year’s budget, according to Kenosha News.
On Monday, Evers issued an executive order calling the state legislature into a special session on police accountability and transparency.
“We must begin the long but important path toward ensuring our state and our country start to live up to our promises of equity and justice. I am urging the Legislature to rise to this occasion and give this special session the urgent and productive effort this moment demands and that the people of Wisconsin deserve,” Evers said in a statement.
Evers and the state’s Legislative Black Caucus pushed for the same reforms on police accountability in June, after protests spread across the state. The legislation was met with little action from the state’s Republican Legislative leaders.
“We know we cannot remedy the systemic racism built into all of our systems with just this package of bills, but that does not mean we should stand still,” said Lt. Gov. Barnes in the same statement.
Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Rep. Robin Vos (R) called the order a divisive tactic.
“We have an opportunity to bring people together to find solutions. Instead, the governor is choosing to turn to politics again by dictating liberal policies that will only deepen the divisions in our state.”
The city of Kenosha is tucked into Wisconsin’s southeast corner between Milwaukee and Chicago. The city is over 11 percent Black making it one of Wisconsin’s largest communities of Black people in a state where Black folks make up nearly 7 percent of the population, according to Census data.
“It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle, we need folks who are actually, genuinely interested and recognize that Black lives do matter,” said Tardy, who thought ongoing action against police brutality reached a turning point, but the latest shooting of Blake convinced her otherwise.
“It ain’t nothing but a game and we the targets,” SeMarice said.