Protests Grow Violent After Police Shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin

Protesters filled the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin for the second night in a row after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man.

While Blake lies in hospital in critical condition, demonstrations demanding justice have blazed in his hometown of Kenosha and beyond. They have also flared in the cities of Minneapolis, Portland, and New York, all focal points of this summer’s racial justice movement originally set off by the murder of George Floyd. But in addition to peaceful protests, Kenosha also faces violence and some looting, resulting in the deployment of the Wisconsin National Guard to quell the unrest.

The Incident

The exact context of Blake’s shooting is yet unknown. But a video, that has gone viral on Twitter, shows the 29-year-old father being pulled from his car by police officers. At least a half dozen gunshots were fired at point blank range into Blake’s back. All while his three children watched from the back seat of the car.

Shortly after the shooting, Blake was airlifted to a nearby hospital. The victim’s father has told the Chicago Sun-Times that Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down, though it’s unclear whether that will become permanent.

Explosive Demonstrations

Protesters flooded the streets of Kenosha, which is just 30 miles south of Milwaukee. On Monday night, hundreds of protesters defied curfew, facing off against National Guardsmen in riot gear. Some protesters tossed fireworks into a line of officers near a courthouse. In response, officers tossed smoke bombs and flash-bang grenades into the crowd. After one rioter tossed an explosive at a garbage truck, the vehicle burst into flames.

And the demonstrations in Kenosha only grew more violent as Monday night melted into Tuesday morning. A group of rioters set fire to several local businesses, some taking off with stolen merchandise. One fire was set at the Community Corrections Building, while graffiti abounded on the sides of vehicles and street lights. And officers arrested at least two individuals in connection to a local library set ablaze.

Public Response

Many high-profile leaders have expressed outrage over Blake’s shooting, while condemning the violence of the protesters.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden decried the incident, tweeting, “The nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force.”

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, meanwhile, has called an emergency session of the state legislature to enact police reform and accountability. The Democratic governor said that the need for change in policing was self-evident. “This movement has touched every corner of Wisconsin, and frankly, I should not need to call a special session when people across our state — from the streets of my small hometown of Plymouth to the streets of Milwaukee — are demanding their elected leaders take action.”