Wisconsin Deploys National Guard After Shooting Of Black Man Sparks Protests
Updated at 5:43 p.m. ET
The Wisconsin National Guard has been deployed to Kenosha, Wis., after a Black man was shot several times at close range in the back during an encounter with police over the weekend.
The shooting was caught on video that has since gone viral on social media, sparking outrage.
Gov. Tony Evers said the guard troops would support local law enforcement officials but added it would not be an extended deployment, according to a Monday afternoon statement.
"Every person should be able to express their anger and frustration by exercising their First Amendment rights and report on these calls to action without any fear of being unsafe," Evers said.
"This is a limited mobilization of the National Guard focused on supporting the needs of local first responders to protect critical infrastructure, such as utilities and fire stations, and to ensure Kenoshians are able to assemble safely."
The governor did not give a time frame for how long the guardsmen would remain in the city.
Protesters took to the streets Sunday evening into the early hours of Monday in Kenosha, roughly 40 miles south of Milwaukee. In the video, a man identified as Jacob Blake is seen being shot multiple times as he leaned inside a vehicle.
He was taken to a Milwaukee hospital. Officials said he was in serious condition.
Wisconsin state officials are investigating the shooting and could have findings completed within 30 days.
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, issued a statement Monday that included the word "Enough" in white letters set against a black background.
He described Blake as "yet another Black American [who] is a victim of excessive force."
"These shots pierce the soul of our nation," Biden said. "Equal justice has not been real for Black Americans and so many others. We are at an inflection point. We must dismantle systemic racism. It is the urgent task before us."
"Don't you do it!"
Officers were responding to a reported domestic incident when the officer-involved shooting took place shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday, according to the Kenosha Police Department.
In a roughly 20-second graphic video posted on social media, a Black man can be seen wearing a white shirt and black shorts. He and officers are standing next to a gray SUV.
The video, which appears to have been recorded from a nearby building across the street, shows the man walking around the front of the vehicle toward the driver's side door, where he opens the door.
Trailing him are two officers, both with their guns drawn.
Screams can be heard from bystanders. It is unclear what was said between the man and the officers before he walked away from them.
"Don't you do it!" one bystander can be heard yelling repeatedly.
One of the officers trailing the man grabs his shirt with his left hand in what appears to be an attempt to pull him away from the vehicle. The officer's service weapon, in his right hand, is pointed inches from the man's back.
As soon as the man leans inside, the officer appears to shoot, and seven shots ring out.
Moments later, sounds of the vehicle's horn can be heard, presumably from the man falling into it. A woman can be seen jumping up and down before another officer pushes her away.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who said he has been retained by Blake's family, also tweeted Sunday that the man's children were inside the vehicle when officers shot him.
"Confirmed: Jacob Blake's 3 SONS were IN THE CAR he was getting into when @KenoshaPolice shot him tonight. They saw a cop shoot their father. They will be traumatized forever. We cannot let officers violate their duty to PROTECT us. Our kids deserve better. #JusticeForJacobBlake"
Confirmed: Jacob Blake’s 3 SONS were IN THE CAR he was getting into when @KenoshaPolice shot him tonight. They saw a cop shoot their father. They will be traumatized forever. We cannot let officers violate their duty to PROTECT us. Our kids deserve better!! #JusticeForJacobBlake— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) August 24, 2020
People at the scene following the shooting said Blake was trying to break up a fight between two women, according to the Kenosha News.
The police department provided few details about what led to the shooting but said the shooting victim was given immediate aid before being airlifted to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee.
Demonstrators take to streets
Several hours after the shooting, large crowds remained in the streets. According to The Journal Times of Racine, rocks, bricks and at least one Molotov cocktail were thrown.
The newspaper posted video on social media that appears to show an officer being knocked down by a brick. The paper noted a police vehicle was damaged and later towed away and that tear gas was reportedly used to disperse crowds gathered outside the police station.
Protesters gathered outside the Kenosha County Public Safety Building, chanting, "No justice, no peace," in video posted by Mike De Sisti of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Reporter Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel posted video of vehicles on fire near the county courthouse.
Crowd is lessening but there’s still at least a couple of hundred people in the square next to the Kenosha County Courthouse. @journalsentinel pic.twitter.com/L86IBr7oOh— Meg Jones (@MegJonesJS) August 24, 2020
Kenosha County officials said the county courthouse and administration building would remain closed Monday because of damage sustained from the unrest. "Court hearings will not be held today, but other county services will remain available online or by phone," the county said shortly after a countywide 7 a.m. curfew expired.
⚠️ The Kenosha County Courthouse and Administration Building will be closed to the public today—Monday, Aug. 24—due to damage sustained during last night's civil unrest. Court hearings will not be held today, but other county services will remain available online or by phone.— Kenosha County (@KenoshaCounty) August 24, 2020
Reaction to the shooting
"Tonight, Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight, in Kenosha, Wisconsin," Evers, the governor, tweeted Sunday. "Kathy and I join his family, friends, and neighbors in hoping earnestly that he will not succumb to his injuries."
Tonight, Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kathy and I join his family, friends, and neighbors in hoping earnestly that he will not succumb to his injuries.— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) August 24, 2020
The shooting of the Blake comes nearly three months after another Black man, George Floyd, was killed during an encounter with four Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
Like this latest shooting, the Floyd encounter was caught on video and shared widely on social media. It touched off national protests calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality.
Both of Wisconsin's U.S. senators weighed in on the shooting, too.
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, said he supports an investigation into the shooting.
"While emotions are understandably running high in the Kenosha community and elsewhere, I urge any demonstrators to remain peaceful and give our justice system the opportunity to work," Johnson said in a tweet.
His Democratic counterpart, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, said the video was "terrifying to watch. "
"As we pray for Jacob Blake to live, let peaceful protests lead the way to the answers we seek, and justice," Baldwin said in a statement.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice has announced that it is investigating the shooting and is being assisted by the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department. It added that the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave and are cooperating with investigators.
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