Protests began in Kenosha, WI, on the evening of Aug. 23 after a police officer shot a 29-year-old Black man earlier that day. The man, later identified as Jacob Blake, was flown to Froedtert Hospital in nearby Milwaukee for medical attention, and as of the morning of Aug. 24, he was listed in serious condition. Following immediate outcry, the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced it would be launching an investigation into the shooting and that the involved police officers had been placed on administrative leave.
A statement released by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the victim's family, noted Blake was "helping to deescalate a domestic incident" when police arrived. Officers proceeded to draw their weapons and taser Blake, who then walked back to his vehicle. As he opened the door on the driver's side, an officer shot Blake multiple times in the back. "It's a miracle he's still alive," Crump said. Blake's three sons were inside the vehicle when the shooting took the place.
"Although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action."
"Tonight, Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight, in Kenosha, Wisconsin," Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said in a statement. "While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country." He added: "I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognise the racism in our state and our country for far too long."
Demonstrations quickly erupted at the site of the shooting, as well as in surrounding areas, and the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department issued a state of emergency curfew. The local unrest is, of course, amid ongoing nationwide protests initially sparked by the killing of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis on May 25.
If you'd like to help demand justice, below are just a few resources and action items.
- Donate to (or share) the official fundraising campaign started by Blake's family, which will help ease the financial burden of his medical bills and legal costs.
- Sign and share the petition calling for the involved officers to be charged.
- Call local officials — including Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian and the Wisconsin Department of Justice — to demand a thorough investigation and police accountability. For additional relevant numbers to call, check out the second slide in this helpful resource from Anti-Racism Daily.
- Donate to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund, which has extended its support to protesters arrested in Kenosha. The organisation has also created a request form to help address the various resources and legal support protesters may need, which you can also circulate among your circle or on social media.