Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Wisconsin on Monday as anger grew in the United States after a black man was shot by a white officer, reigniting the historic anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd.
“Without justice there is no peace!” Protesters shouted in Kenosha, a city on the shores of Lake Michigan, after Jacob Blake was shot several times in the back on Sunday as he tried to get into his truck, with his three children watching .
Blake, 29, was airlifted to a hospital in Milwaukee, about 25 miles north, in serious condition, but local media reported Monday afternoon that his family said he was improving after undergoing surgery.
Like George Floyd, the 46-year-old African-American who suffocated to death on May 25 under the knees of a white police officer, the attempt to arrest Blake was recorded by a witness in a video that went viral.
Authorities said that two policemen were suspended and that an investigation was launched after the heavy riots that took place on Sunday night, when several vehicles were set on fire and there was destruction in a court.
Before a curfew imposed in Kenosha County to preserve public order, residents were clamoring for an end to police impunity.
“If I killed someone, they would condemn me and consider me a murderer. I think it should be the same for the police, ”said Sherese Lott, a 37-year-old woman outraged by police brutality.
“I want my children to see change happen and I am here so that nothing like this ever happens to them,” Michelle said without giving her last name, as she marched with her husband Kalvin, and their eight- and seven-year-old children.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said he would send 125 members of the national guard to the city to maintain order Monday night.
“We must rise to the occasion of this movement and this moment and face it with our empathy, our humanity and a fierce commitment to interrupt the cycle of racism and systemic prejudice that devastates black families and communities,” he said, urging the population to keep the demonstrations peaceful.
“Public health crisis”
Police reported that the shooting “involving an officer” occurred while responding to a domestic incident on Sunday.
The Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, who will challenge Donald Trump for reelection on November 3, condemned what happened in a message with the word “Enough” on a black background.
“Yesterday, the police shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back. His children watched from the car. Today we wake up in pain once again. We need a full and transparent investigation, ”he said.
Gov. Evers, also a Democrat, urged the Republican-controlled state Legislature to address a package of bills he introduced earlier this year regarding police.
“Racism is a public health crisis. There is no time to lose, ”she said.
Hundreds of people also marched in New York City on Monday to show their anger at what happened.
“I am angry and upset and I am tired. I’m really tired. I’m tired of marching for this, ”said a tearful woman, who only identified herself as Awal.
Ben Crump, the attorney representing Floyd’s family and taking Blake’s defense, said Blake was only trying to “de-escalate” an argument between two women.
“When he went away to see how his children were doing, the police shot him several times in the back at point-blank range,” he said in a statement.
“They will be traumatized forever. We cannot allow officers to violate their duty to PROTECT us. Our kids deserve better! ”He had tweeted earlier.
Kenosha police rejected the criticism and asked to wait for the results of an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
“As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the complexities of a highly dynamic incident,” said Pete Deates, president of the Kenosha Professional Police Association.
The powerful American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) denounced what happened to Blake as “another disgusting act of police brutality.”
“The fact that police violence like this (the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner and many others) has become commonplace shows that the very institution of the American police is rotten at its core,” the ACLU noted in Twitter