The second night of protests set Kenosha ablaze as the city copes with the residual impact of a police shooting that left a Black man in critical care.
Jacob Blake, 29, was shot as many as seven times at point-blank range by Kenosha police Sunday night. According to police scanner audio obtained by Madison365, shots were fired approximately five minutes after police were dispatched to the scene. According to the family’s lawyer, Ben Crump, Blake’s three sons were in the car when he was shot by police. Blake is alive and being treated at Milwaukee’s Froedtert Hospital.
The National Guard was deployed to the city on Monday to protect infrastructure and maintain public safety, Gov. Tony Evers said.
“I know folks across our state will be making their voices heard in Kenosha and in communities across Wisconsin. 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 in a statement.
Tyretha, 25, lives near the scene of the incident and said she planned on protesting Monday but does not want to see people hurt by law enforcement.
“I don’t want my kids to lose their mom, their dad, or their aunties. We just standing up for our community,” said Tyretha, who asked that her last name not be published.
Tyretha didn’t see the incident that left Blake clinging onto his life, but she said her niece was playing outside until she ran into Tyretha’s apartment screaming that a man was shot, pointing at the police outside. Once Tyretha got to the scene, holding back tears, she said she saw Blake lying limp on a stretcher as police tried to revive him. Tyretha said she’s known Blake for a year and was surprised to find out the victim was someone she knew.
“They didn’t have to shoot him,” she said with tears in her eyes. “I just want justice for Jacob.”
Tyretha said people need to know that Black people should not be feared. “They need to understand that we not out here doing nothing wrong,” she said. “He was a walking target.”
In a press conference held on Monday, Kenosha Mayor John Ataramian addressed the community and called for everyone to start listening to each other. “People are mad, people are upset,” he said. “The only way this country, this community, survives, is if we learn to listen. And right now I’m afraid we’re having trouble doing that.”
Kenosha resident Deonte Cottingham, 37, said he was outraged when he saw the video of Blake being shot by Kenosha police.
“I want that police officer to be held accountable. He needs to go to prison and an example needs to be made,” he said.
Cottingham, a father of five, brought his children out to protest the shooting on Monday evening to show them that people can come together to enact change.
Terry Andrews, 41, has lived in Kenosha County most of his life but he said the latest police shooting served as something of a reality check.
“It can happen anywhere, to any one of us, at any time,” he said, noting that although he is thankful that Blake is still alive, it is clear to him that the intent behind the shooting was to kill. Ultimately, Andrews is proud of his community’s use of collective action.
“We’re going to win this battle,” he said. “It’s all about unity in this city and we stepped it up now. We showcased how unified this city is.”
In response to the shooting, Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes announced an Executive Order calling the state Legislature into special session on police accountability and transparency on Aug. 31. In the meantime, the state Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation into the shooting.
Back in Kenosha, Tyretha spoke lovingly of her hometown.
“Kenosha has always been loved,” she said. “At the end of the day, we are fighting for our city. We fighting for our Black men, our Black women in America, in Kenosha, in Wisconsin.“