Angry protests erupted after an unarmed black father was shot in the back seven times in front of his children by a white police officer. Jacob Blake, 29, is in intensive care after being shot in a shocking incident that was captured on film and went viral on social media. The National Guard was called in to Kenosha, Wisconsin as a state of emergency was declared, with unrest breaking out across the city as thousands took to the streets following the shooting. During the second night of protests on Monday following the shooting, demonstrators marched through downtown Kenosha chanting 'Hands Up don't shoot' with a curfew set to come into force at 8 pm local time.
In footage of Monday evening's march, buildings could be seen boarded up after protests the previous night led to rioting and looting, with vehicles and buildings set on fire. Furious protesters had marched on the city's police headquarters on Sunday chanting 'Black Lives Matter' and other slogans against police brutality, with some demonstrators throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails at police. A curfew is due to remain until 7 am on Tuesday, with around 200 members of the Wisconsin National Guard deployed to Kenosha. US President Donald Trump - heavily criticised over his handling of anti-racism protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd - decried the protests as "anarchy".
But local Black Lives Matter leaders have vowed demonstrations will continue until the officer who fired the shots has been sacked. This city is not going to stop burning itself down until they (protesters) know that this officer has been fired," said Whitney Cabal, one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Kenosha.
"There was no reason for seven shots to be fired into this man's back while he had three kids in the car."
Protests were also held in New York and elsewhere in the US following the shooting, which occurred around 5 pm on Sunday as officers responded to what they termed a "domestic incident." Graphic footage of the shooting, which was filmed by a bystander, shows Mr Blake walking to his car and opening the driver's door before a police officer grabs him from behind and pulls the white t-shirt he is wearing. Shots then ring out seven times.
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Three policemen are pointing a gun at Mr Blake but it is unclear whether more than one officers fired shots. Police immediately took the victim to a hospital, according to a Kenosha Police Department statement - but authorities gave no further explanation as to what led to the shooting. Mr Blake's father told reporters on Monday morning his son was out of surgery and in stable condition. A lawyer for the family said Mr Blake's three sons saw the shooting.
Prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump told CNN that Mr Blake's family had contacted him for assistance. In a tweet, he said Mr Blake's three sons would be "traumatized forever".
"They saw a cop shoot their father. They will be traumatized forever. We cannot let officers violate their duty to PROTECT us," he wrote.
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He said the shooting happened after Mr Blake tried to break up a fight between two women. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, condemned what he called the "excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites." He announced a special session next Monday for legislators to consider a package of bills introduced months ago to addressing problems with law enforcement, improve police accountability and eliminate dangerous practices. Evers said in a public address: "We must rise to this movement and this moment and meet it with our empathy, our humanity and a fierce commitment to disrupt the cycle of systemic racism and bias that devastates Black families and communities."
Pete Deates, president of the city's police union, the Kenosha Professional Police Association, said Evers was "wholly irresponsible" for rushing to judgment, and asked the public to wait until all facts are known. The shooting occurred three months after the death of George Floyd sparked worldwide protests against police brutality and systematic racism. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat challenging Trump in the November presidential election, called for the officers involved to be held accountable.
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"And this morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force," Biden said. "These shots pierce the soul of our nation."
This just happend in Kenosha, WI. ????#BlackLivesMatter. pic.twitter.com/QLW7Vxtdzm— chrizi (@nolimitchrizi) August 23, 2020