Kenosha, Wisconsin is a small city on the shore of Lake Michigan; their Police Department had a reputation of being aggressive with people of color. With approximately 200 sworn-in officers, only 10-15 are Black or LatinX. Their Police Chief Daniel Miskins has been slow to equip the department with resources aligned with the progression of police reform.
The City Law Enforcement department has not been provided with Body Cams, according to Kenosha public officials “there was no real urgency for them.” If it were not for Raysean White, a neighbor in the area, the world would not have seen the injustice that happened to 29-year-old Jacob Blake. He was shot in the back seven times at close range, while his three sons were in the car. Blake has gone through surgery and he now champions through paralysis from the waist down.
Patience for updates in police reform were already wearing thin, due to the previous string of racially charged acts from various law enforcement across the country. After the shooting of Blake, buildings began to catch fire around the Uptown area. City uprisings have been taking place for the last three days, across the nation including Los Angeles.
Blake experienced a gunshot wound in one arm, damage to his kidney, liver, and spinal cord, and most of his colon has been removed. The officers involved have been placed on “administrative leave” while the investigation is conducted. There has been no public statement from Chief Miskins yet.
Federal investigators are reviewing the case; The U.S. Justice Department and FBI agents are currently gathering information to determine if a civil investigation needs to take place. Representing the family is Attorney Benjamin Crump who also worked as head attorney for George Floyd.
From the view of the police, officers were responding to a call about a domestic dispute where they found Blake, no information has made it clear if Blake was armed or why the police opened fire. The recording of the incident show residents outside as Blake makes his way over to his driver seat, all three officers follow him, in close range, Blake gets shot in the back seven times. White recalled that the police told Blake to drop the knife, however white explained that he did not see Blake holding a knife.
Blake’s family try to pacify the civil uprisings that are happening in the name of the wounded, buildings were torched to the ground and store fronts were defaced in dissatisfaction in the city of Kenosha’s law enforcement. There is a curfew in place and the National guard has been called. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers continued to increase the assistance of the National Guard on Tuesday.
Parents of Blake spoke on behalf of their son, Jacob Blake Sr. stated, “They shot my son seven times. Seven times. Like he didn’t matter,” Blake Sr. continued, “But my son matters. He’s a human being, and he matters.”
According to Attorney Crump’s team, Blake was found by police trying to deescalate a dispute between two women. The process that led to Blake being tasered, then followed to his car, and then shot is still not clear. Although Kenosha Police are not equipped with body cams, they do have dashboard cameras. It is still uncertain if any dashboard footage has been obtained. As of Tuesday, the presence of National Guard has increased as social uprisings continue for a third night.
Julia Jackson is the mother of the victim who was shot several times, she tried to meet the passion displayed for her son by urging protestors to be peaceful. She stated, “We really just need prayers. As I was riding through here, the city, I noticed a lot of damage. It doesn’t reflect my son or my family. If Jacob knew what was going on as far as that goes – the violence and the destruction – he would be very unpleased,” Jackson stated, “We need healing.”