Another hashtag. #JacobBlake was shot on August 23rd by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The viral video shows him being followed by the officers to the driver’s side of his car. They are attempting to arrest him after a domestic dispute. A new video shows him struggling with the officers near the back of his SUV before the shooting.
What we don’t see are his three little boys in the car. They are 3, 5 and 8 years old. They will witness him being shot at least seven times. Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down.
In response, protests are happening in several American cities, buildings and cars burn, stores looted, a citywide curfew instated, a state of emergency declared, the National Guard troops deployed, calls for peace, transparency and defunding of the police department (also known as divest- invest), family, attorney and city official statements made, pleas to withhold judgment until after the investigation. Innocent until proven guilty are the officers– but not Blake. Ironic. But, you know, the usual.
It’s a long and unhelpful cycle. We get nowhere. But, we know the place well and can recite the next steps and findings from memory. The two police officers involved are on paid administrative leave. A federal investigation has begun. We are prepared to hear, “The shooting was justified” or “the officers felt threatened” or “the suspect refused to obey our commands and so…”
But, shooting him seven times in the back? What law, what kind of punishment is that? And for what crime should Blake lose his ability to walk, lose nearly his entire colon and small intestine? What kind of justice is this?
This is what I and so many others want to know. This is why we cannot stop protesting, why we cannot look the other way or turn our backs on police brutality, on this excessive and deadly use of force against African American people for minor offenses or no crime at all. Because it keeps happening and it will not stop until we turn around and face it squarely, calling it for what it is.