Wisconsin declares state of emergency amid protests over police shooting of Jacob Blake

Governor Tony Evers says state 'cannot allow cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue' while condemning 'path of damage and destruction'

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 25 August 2020 17:35
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Jacob Blake Sr speaks to reporters after son shot by police
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Wisconsin's governor has declared a state of emergency following ongoing unrest in Kenosha after police shot Jacob Blake multiple times at close range, leaving him paralysed, according to his family.

Governor Tony Evers condemned vandalism and buildings being torched amid demonstrations against police violence as he announced that the state's National Guard presence will double to 250 troops following Monday night's protests.

"We cannot forget the reason why these protests began, and what we have seen play out over the last two nights and many nights this year is the pain, anguish, and exhaustion of being black in our state and country," he said in a statement. "As I'll reiterate today, everyone should be able to exercise their fundamental right – whether a protester or member of the press – peacefully and safely. We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue. We also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction."

The city's police department has released scant information about the shooting and the state's Department of Justice announced it will investigate.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump revealed on Tuesday that Mr Blake is paralysed from the waist down following the weekend shooting.

Mr Blake reportedly had tried to break up a fight on Sunday and was leaving the scene when police arrived. But in widely shared video of the shooting, Mr Blake is seen walking to his car and opening its driver's side door before police fired several rounds into his back.

Three of his children were reportedly inside the car at the time.

Mr Blake's father, also named Jacob Blake, told reporters on Tuesday that the shooting amounted to "senseless" attempted murder.

"They shot my son seven times" he said, holding back tears. "Seven times. Like he didn't matter, but my son matters. He's a human being and he matters."

He told the Chicago Sun-Times that his 29-year-old son that doctors do not know whether his condition is permanent.

Adria-Joi Watkins poses with her second cousin Jacob Blake in a photograph taken in September 2019

"I want to put my hand on my son's cheek and kiss him on his forehead, and then I'll be OK," Mr Blake Sr told the newspaper. "I'll kiss him with my mask. The first thing I want to do is touch my son."

The family's attorney Patrick Salvi said that a bullet may have struck Mr Blake's spinal cord as he detailed his extensive damages from the shooting.

"He has holes in his stomach," he told reporter. "He had to have nearly his entire colon and small intestines removed. He suffered damage to his kidney and liver and was also shot in the arm."

The shooting followed weeks of Black Lives Matter protests galvanised by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the deaths of several unarmed black Americans throughout the summer, as well as older police killings that have received more mainstream attention as protests have renewed demands for justice.

Police fired tear gas at protesters in Kenosha on Monday night as several structures and vehicles were engulfed in flames.

Julia Jackson, Mr Blake's mother, told protesters to "take a moment and examine your hearts".

"As I was riding through here, through this city, I noticed a lot of damage that doesn't reflect my son or my family," she told reporters. "If Jacob knew what was going on as far as that goes, the violence and the destruction, he would be very unpleased."

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