Kenosha Reels After Police Shooting and Night of Protest

Kenosha Reels After Police Shooting and Night of Protest


KENOSHA, Wis. — Annie Hurst heard a strange commotion on Sunday afternoon, stepped outside the cream-colored house where she has lived for 53 years and peered across the street.

What she saw made her freeze in fear: A police officer with his gun aimed at Jacob Blake, her neighbor, as he tried to get into his car with three of his children in the back seat. The officer grabbed him by his shirt and fired several times, shooting him in the back.

“I was just screaming,” Ms. Hurst said.

The scene of a white police officer shooting a Black man continues to play out with devastating frequency in the United States, even at the end of a summer marked by widespread protests and calls for reform after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Kenosha, a city of 100,000 that a generation ago was a car-making powerhouse, is the latest setting for a police shooting that has left its residents reeling. The shooting, which was captured in a brief but searing video by a neighbor across the street, drew immediate condemnation from Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin, a Democrat, and set off protests and looting overnight throughout Kenosha’s small downtown on the shore of Lake Michigan.

The shooting instantly turned into a rallying cry for demonstrators in cities like Portland, Ore., Madison, Wis., and Chicago, and became a topic in the presidential race, where Wisconsin is a crucial battleground state. On Monday, as Republicans kicked off the first day of their national convention, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for president, spoke out against the police officer’s actions. “The nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force,” he said.

In Kenosha on Monday morning, dump trucks that had been set ablaze outside the county courthouse were still sending an acrid smell through the air. Stunned shop owners swept up glass that had been smashed overnight. Kenosha Police ordered a curfew for the second night in a row, beginning at 8 p.m.

The police offered little detail about what had happened, saying only that an officer had shot Mr. Blake while responding to a domestic incident.

Mr. Blake, 29, was in stable condition at a nearby hospital on Monday.

The investigation was immediately turned over from the Kenosha Police Department to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

“What I saw in that video is disturbing,” said Anthony Kennedy, a Kenosha alderman who represents Mr. Blake’s district. “It is heartbreaking. And I don’t have an answer for what happened.”

Neighbors described an ordinary Sunday afternoon that suddenly and swiftly turned violent.

Shortly before the shooting, Mr. Blake had stopped next door in the apartment of a friend, Donnell Lauderdale; he was carrying gifts for Mr. Lauderdale’s 8-year-old son.

“He had a bag full of presents,” Mr. Lauderdale said, standing outside his home. “He’s a family man. He takes good care of his kids.”

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the family, said in an interview that he had been told that Mr. Blake was attempting to intervene in an argument between two women when the police arrived.

In a video taken from an apartment window across the street, several officers can be seen standing on a sidewalk next to a four-door S.U.V. The man identified as Mr. Blake, wearing a white tank top and black shorts, is seen walking along the passenger side of the vehicle, away from the officers who are yelling. At least one of them points a gun at him.

Mr. Blake walks around the front of the vehicle and opens the driver-side door. Numerous people can be heard yelling, and one officer is seen grabbing Mr. Blake’s shirt. As he opens the door, at least half a dozen shots can be heard while at least two officers can be seen with their guns pointed at him. The video, which is about 20 seconds long, ends shortly after the shooting.

“The police haven’t told us why they did what they did to him,” Mr. Crump said. “Being a Black man in America, he was suspicious automatically.”

The shooting occurred on a street lined with low-slung brick apartment buildings, adjacent to a municipal golf course.

Governor Evers issued a statement only a few hours after the shooting happened. “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,” the governor said on Twitter.





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