Hundreds gathered Saturday afternoon for a march through Kenosha, Wisconsin, a week after 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a city policeman.
Blake’s family, who say the shooting left him paralyzed, have criticized rioters who set fires and damaged buildings during several violent days of protest. They were expected to lead the march. Protests in the city have been peaceful for the past two days, since the National Guard was sent in to help restore calm.
The latest demonstration comes as the mayor of Kenosha resisted calls for the city’s police chief and sheriff to resign.
Meanwhile, Mayor John Antaramian is supporting Police Chief Daniel Miskinis, despite controversial comments by Miskinis suggesting that people out after curfew are to blame for a shooting that left two protesters dead and another wounded, Fox News reported. The alleged shooter, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, faces multiple criminal charges, including first-degree homicide.
The encounter between police and Blake was sparked when he apparently violated a restraining order stemming from an alleged sex assault. Blake was forbidden from going to the Kenosha home of his alleged victim after a May incident, and police were dispatched Sunday following a 911 call saying he was there and trying to take the caller’s keys and car. The officers were reportedly aware that Blake had an open warrant for felony sexual assault before they arrived.
Blake had a knife in the vehicle, according to authorities.
Jacob Blake’s uncle earlier Saturday called the Kenosha police union’s version of what happened in the moments before he was shot “garbage” and “insulting.” Justin Blake said his nephew wasn’t carrying a weapon and “didn’t deserve to be shot seven times in his back.”
“We’re not going to allow them to come back a week later and talk about some type of weapon being involved after they temporarily paralyzed my nephew,” Justin Blake told CNN. “As his uncle, that’s insulting.”
Separately, during an appearance on MSNBC Saturday morning, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said that each time a Black person is killed by police, “there’s always a reason, there’s always an excuse.”
Barnes, who is Black, told MSNBC host Ali Velshi, “Too often, bad behavior is dismissed and that’s the reason we’re in the situation that we’re in,” he said. “If we had the accountabllity that we deserve as elected officials, and as community members in general, as the public, we wouldn’t be in the place that we are with this racial reckoning.”
Separately, Patrisse Cullors, the artist and activist who was one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013, called for a strike in Hollywood to protest Blake’s shooting, following the cancellation of games across several sports last week. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, she said that “I think it’s time for talent, writers, executives, the guild and SAG to show up for Black lives as well.”
Cullors said she and others in the BLM movement are in talks with some talent to see what kind of protest is possible, in a way that will continue the momentum started after George Floyd’s police killing in May.