Jacob Blake: protests after US police shoot man in the back

Neighbours confronted law enforcement at the scene in Wisconsin and crowds marched in the streets after the abuse was caught on camera

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Wittman Airport in Oshkosh, Wis., on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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Neighbours confronted law enforcement at the scene of a police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday that drew a harsh rebuke from the governor.

Crowds marched in the streets after a video posted on social media appeared to show officers shoot at a man’s back seven times as he leaned into a vehicle.

Kenosha Police said a person was taken to hospital in serious condition following a shooting by officers at about 5pm as police were responding to a “domestic incident,” the Kenosha Police Department said.

Police did not provide details about what led to the shooting or the officers involved, but said the person was taken to a hospital in Milwaukee for treatment.

In the video posted on social media that appeared to show the shooting from across a street, three officers could be seen shouting and pointing their weapons at the man, who appeared to be black, as he walked around the front of an SUV parked on the street. As the man opened the driver’s side door and leaned inside, one officer grabbed his shirt from behind and then fired into the vehicle. Seven shots could be heard on the video, though it was unclear if more than one officer fired.

Following the shooting, social media posts showed neighbours gathering in the surrounding streets and hurling comments at police. Some could be heard chanting “No justice, no peace”.

Later on Sunday, in a scene that mirrored the months of protests over racial injustice around the world that have followed the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other black people killed by police, marchers headed to the Kenosha County Public Safety Building, which authorities had mostly blocked. Protesters marched along lines of cars honking on their way to the station and eventually made their way to the rear car park. A man could be seen breaking the window of a patrol car parked along the street. Some police officers were positioned on the roof of the station as people continued towards the building

Outside the station, protesters faced off with officers who were dressed in riot gear that included plastic face masks and held plastic shields and batons that they occasionally used to push people back.

Governor Tony Evers on Sunday night released a statement on Twitter condemning the shooting of a man who “was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight” and whom he identified as Jacob Blake.

“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,” Mr Evers said. “We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for black lives in our country.

“And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with black Wisconsinites. 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 recognise the racism in our state and our country for far too long.”

Kenosha Police referred all questions to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which did not immediately respond to messages seeking to confirm details of the shooting video.

The Kenosha Sheriff’s Department and Wisconsin State Patrol were requested at the scene so another law enforcement agency could take over, police said.

Meanwhile, Kenosha County late on Sunday night declared a state of “emergency curfew,” which the Kenosha Sheriff’s Department would enforce until 7am.

The city of Kenosha is located on Lake Michigan, about 64 kilometres south of Milwaukee.

A Kenosha Police Department dispatcher referred calls by the Associated Press to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the agency that will be investigating the shooting. A message left with DOJ was not immediately returned.