By Asha Taylor
Despite the lack of coverage by mainstream media, most do not know that many citizens peacefully protest for justice and equality of Black lives. Unless the protest occurs directly in the backyards of some, or creates an open disturbance to the everyday life of the individual, many choose to ignore the movement. However, people are still demanding and continue to fight for Black lives, especially in regards to police brutality.
On August 23, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as seen on a recorded video by nearby bystanders. One of the civilians who filmed the incident, Raysean White, told CNN that officers “wrestled, punched, and tasered” Blake before the recording began. In the viral video, Blake was shown to have walked away from officers towards his gray SUV. Simultaneously, at least two officers with guns drawn followed him. Once Blake walked around to the driver’s side of his vehicle, he opened the door and tried to enter his car. Officer Rutsen Jetsky quickly grabbed onto Blake’s shirt and fired shots at his back at close range. Meanwhile, Blake’s three children watched the shooting from inside the car, including his 8-year old son on his eighth birthday.
According to ABC News, Kenosha police were sent to act on a domestic violence altercation that occurred on Sunday, August 23. The full details of the altercation have not been released to the public. Other officers reported at the scene were Kenosha Police Officers Brittany Meronek, Vincent Arenas, along with shooter Rutsen Jetsky. Vincent Arenas was identified to have attempted to taze Mr. Blake, but was unsuccessful, as covered by NBC.
To justify their reason for escalating the arrest through the violent shooting, Kenosha police claim that Blake admitted he had a knife. Following the shooting, Blake was hospitalized and he survived the wounds to his back. The 29-year-old’s spinal cord was reported to be injured beyond repair, leaving Jacob Blake paralyzed from his waist down. According to the family, doctors are unsure if Blake’s condition is permanent.
Blake was paralyzed but was handcuffed to his hospital bed. Kenosha officials claimed that restraints were a necessary procedure. As covered by NBC News, an officer who represented the Kenosha Police Department stated Jacob Blake’s arrest was due to the incident that took place, as well as Blake’s ongoing sexual assault warrant. It was not until Friday, August 28 that Mr. Blake’s attorney, Patrick Cafferty, updated the public on Jacob Blake’s release from handcuffs. The outstanding warrants upon Blake were dropped.
Blake is known to those that love him, as a father of three boys, a son, and as a close beloved family member. On August 25, 2020, civil rights attorneys representing Jacob Blake set up a press conference to give the family the opportunity to speak out against the police force. Specifically, Attorney Benjamin Crump — who represents the families of victims Ahmaud Abery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor — stood amongst the family and spoke with them in unity. “We want Justice!” the family exclaime, and demanded the Kenosha Police Officers affiliated with the shooting be arrested. Throughout the press conference, the family expressed clear concern for the lack of value for Black lives in this country.
Such frustrations have been shared by thousands of civilians across the country. Kenosha, Wisconsin was in a state of unrest directly following the shooting. Angry protestors flooded the streets, along with many other protests held throughout the nation and displayed the public’s response to the shooting. Even several professional athletes have responded to the incident and chose to go on strike by refusing to play until justice is served to Jacob Blake and his family. NBA and WNBA teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Washington Mystics collectively joined together in the boycott. Although the players have resumed playing, their advocacy and demand for equality continues.
Statistically, Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people. Police brutality is only one of the target issues demanded for reform. Although Jacob Blake survived, other victims were not as fortunate. The Black Lives Matter movement persists until Black people’s lives are valued. Societal and lawful changes in America will demonstrate our values.
Resources to Learn
Albert, Victoria. “Officer Who Shot Jacob Blake Identified.” CBS News, 26 Aug. 2020.
Brewster, Jack. “Jacob Blake And The Families Of George Floyd And Breonna Taylor Are Represented By The Same Lawyer — Here’s Who He Is.” Forbes, 28 Aug. 2020.
NBC News. “Jacob Blake No Longer Shackled To Hospital Bed, Lawyer Says | NBC Nightly News.” YouTube, uploaded by NBC News, 28 Aug. 2020.
“Paralysed Jacob Blake ‘Released from Handcuffs.’” BBC News, 29 Aug. 2020.
Sanchez, Ray CNN. “Jacob Blake Shooting: How the Nation’s Racial Reckoning Swelled.” CNN, 30 Aug. 2020.
Sinyagwe, Samuel. “Mapping Police Violence.” Mapping Police Violence, 24 Aug. 2020,
Sunkara, Bhaskar. “NBA Players Took Real Political Action over Jacob Blake. Will Others Follow?” The Guardian, 27 Aug. 2020.
“What Do We Know about Jacob Blake’s Shooting?” BBC News, 27 Aug. 2020.
Yahoo Finance. “Civil Rights Attorneys and Family of Jacob Blake Hold Press Conference.” YouTube, uploaded by Yahoo Finance, 25 Aug. 2020.