Protests erupt for third night after Black man shot by police left paralysed
A Black man shot multiple times by police in the US state of Wisconsin is paralysed, and it would “take a miracle” for him to walk again, his family’s lawyer has said.
The shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday in Kenosha – apparently in the back, while three of his children looked on – was captured on mobile phone video and ignited new protests over racial injustice in several cities.
It comes just three months after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police triggered a wider reckoning on race in the US and beyond.
The Blake family’s lawyer Ben Crump called for the officer who opened fire to be arrested and others involved to lose their jobs.
Some demonstrations devolved into unrest, including for a third night in Kenosha, where multiple gunshots could be heard in social media posts from at least one area where residents and people carrying guns and other weapons remained in the streets hours after the city’s 8pm curfew.
Kenosha Police are investigating after videos appeared to show at least two people with gunshot wounds, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Earlier on Tuesday, Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Snr, spoke alongside other family members and lawyers, telling reporters that police shot his son “seven times, seven times, like he didn’t matter”.
“But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters,” he said.
Crump said the 29-year-old was in surgery on Tuesday, adding that the bullets severed Blake’s spinal cord and shattered his vertebrae. Another lawyer said there was also severe damage to organs.
“It’s going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr to ever walk again,” Mr Crump said.
The legal team plans to file a civil lawsuit against the police department over the shooting.
Police have said little about what happened, other than that they were responding to a domestic dispute.
The officers involved have not been named. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating.
Police fired tear gas for a third night on Tuesday to disperse protesters who had gathered outside Kenosha’s courthouse, where some shook a protective fence and threw water bottles and fireworks at officers lined up behind it.
Police then used armoured vehicles and officers with shields pushed back the crowd when protesters ignored warnings to leave a nearby park.
Wisconsin governor Tony Evers had called for calm on Tuesday, while also declaring a state of emergency under which he doubled the National Guard deployment in Kenosha from 125 to 250.
The night before, crowds destroyed dozens of buildings and set more than 30 fires in the city centre.
Evers, who is facing mounting pressure from Republicans over his handling of the unrest, said: “We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue.
“We also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction.”
Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, said the damage in Kenosha does not reflect what her family wants and that, if her son could see it, he would be “very unpleased”.
She said the first thing her son said to her when she saw him was that he was sorry.
“He said: ‘I don’t want to be a burden on you guys,’” Jackson said. “‘I want to be with my children, and I don’t think I’ll walk again.’”
Three of Blake’s sons – aged three, five and eight – were in the car at the time of the shooting, Crump said. It was the eight-year-old’s birthday, he added.
The man who said he made the video of the shooting, Raysean White, said he saw Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them shout: “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before the gunfire erupted. He said he did not see a knife in Blake’s hands.
In the footage, Blake walks from the pavement around the front of his SUV to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns drawn and shout at him.
As Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire. Seven shots can be heard, though it is not clear how many struck Blake or how many officers fired.
Blake’s father told the Chicago Sun-Times that his son had eight wounds in his body.
Anger over the shooting has spilled into the streets of Kenosha and other cities, including Los Angeles, Wisconsin’s capital of Madison and in Minneapolis, the epicentre of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer following Floyd’s killing.
Blake’s family has joined widespread calls for calm.
“I really ask you and encourage everyone in Wisconsin and abroad to take a moment and examine your hearts,” Blake’s mother said.
“Do Jacob justice on this level and examine your hearts … As I pray for my son’s healing physically, emotionally and spiritually, I also have been praying, even before this, for the healing of our country.”
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