“Justice is a bare minimum”: hundreds of people march for Jacob Blake in Kenosha

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KENOSHA, WIS. – With songs of “One person, one voice!” And “No justice, no peace!” A crowd of around 1,000 protesters gathered outside a Wisconsin courthouse on Saturday to denounce police violence and share messages of change, a week after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in the back and left the 29 year old black paralyzed. The diverse group of protesters also chanted “Seven bullets, seven days! – a reference to the number of times Blake was shot last Sunday – as they walked towards the Kenosha courthouse. There, Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., made a passionate appeal to change a system he described as promoting police brutality and racial inequality.

“There were seven bullets in my son’s back. … Damn yeah, I’m crazy, ”said Blake Sr. He said he wanted to ask the police“ what gave them the right to attempted murder on my child? them the right to think that my son was an animal? What gave them the right to take something that was not theirs? I have enough. ”

Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey and two other officers were responding to a domestic violence call last Sunday when Sheskey shot Blake in the back. Blake Sr. told reporters on Saturday that his son was heavily sedated, but had regained consciousness.

“He’s in a lot of pain,” he says. “I just wish I could take my baby and that everything was okay. He demanded that Sheskey be charged and that the two other officers present at the scene be dismissed.

Several of Saturday’s speakers encouraged the crowd to vote for the change in November and to push for a change in legislation in Wisconsin that would lead to police reform.

“Justice is a bare minimum,” said Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. “Justice should be guaranteed to everyone in this country. ”

Blake Sr. asked the rally attendees to raise their fists with him. “We are not going to stop moving in the right direction. We are going to the top… we are going to pass legislation because that is the only thing they recognize, ”he said.

Blake Sr. also spoke of the May 25 death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after an officer in Minneapolis pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck. Says Blake Sr., “We all have one knee on the back of our necks, every day. ”

One of Blake’s sisters, Letetra Widman, said she felt recharged “to stand up not just for Jacob, but for all those who have not obtained justice.”

Captured on cellphone video, the shooting sparked further protests against racial injustice, and police brutality months after Floyd’s death sparked wider consideration of race.

Protesters have marched through Kenosha every night since the Blake shooting, with some protests turning into unrest with damage to buildings and vehicles. On Tuesday, two people were killed by an armed civilian. The National Guard commander said on Friday that more than 1,000 Guardsmen had been deployed to help keep the peace, with more on the way.

President Donald Trump, who was visiting hurricane damage in Texas on Saturday when reporters asked him if he would be visiting Kenosha, responded “probably” but gave no details. When asked to weigh in on Tuesday’s shooting in which Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was indicted, Trump hesitated and said “it’s under investigation” and “we’re looking at it very, very carefully. “.

Aniyah Ervin, a 16-year-old from Kenosha who is black, said on Saturday that the week had been surreal. Although she protested racial injustice over the summer, she said there had been a feeling that police brutality was not an issue in Kenosha. But, she says, the shooting of Blake “shows that it can happen anywhere.”

Will Turner, who is black, said he brought his two children from Madison for the walk in order to “show them the power to protest peacefully.”

Investigators have said little about what led to Blake’s shooting. The Kenosha Police Union said Blake had a knife and had a fight with officers, putting one in a headache after two attempts to stun him with a Taser failed. State investigators only said officers found a knife on the floor of the car.

In cellphone video recorded by a spectator, Blake walks from the curb in the front of an SUV to his driver’s side door as officers follow him with their guns and yell at him. As Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire. Three of Blake’s children were in the vehicle.

The man who recorded the video, Raysean White, 22, said he heard police shout at Blake, ‘Drop the knife! Let go of the knife! Before gunshots broke out. White said he hadn’t seen a knife in Blake’s hands.

Forliti reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press reporters Jennifer Peltz in Kenosha, Kathleen Foody in Chicago, and Jill Colvin in Orange, Texas, also contributed.

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