26 Aug 2020

Jacob Blake's father says his shot son is 'paralysed'

8:22 am on 26 August 2020

The black man shot many times in the back by Wisconsin police officers is paralysed from the waist down, his father has said.

Protesters march near the Minneapolis 1st Police precinct during a demonstration against police brutality and racism on August 24, 2020.

Protesters march near the Minneapolis 1st Police precinct during a demonstration against police brutality and racism on August 24, 2020. Photo: Kerem Yucel / AFP

Jacob Blake, 29, was shot several times as he went to a car and opened its door in the city of Kenosha on Sunday.

The shooting sparked two nights of protests in the city, with buildings and cars set alight.

His father has now told a US newspaper that his son is paralysed - although doctors do not know if it is permanent.

Jacob Blake Snr told the Chicago Sun Times his son had "eight holes" in his body.

"What justified all those shots?" his father asked. "What justified doing that in front of my grandsons? What are we doing?"

Video footage of Blake's shooting, taken from across the street and shared on social media, shows the father-of-three leaning into the car and an officer grabbing his shirt, with seven shots heard.

Within hours of Blake's shooting, hundreds of people had marched on Kenosha's police headquarters. Cars were later set alight, and police urged 24-hour businesses to consider closing because of "numerous" calls about armed robberies and shots being fired.

On Monday, Governor Tony Evers called up the National Guard to aid local police, with a curfew imposed on the city of about 100,000 on the south-western shore of Lake Michigan on Tuesday.

But some ignored the curfew, and police used tear gas to try to force protesters - some of whom were throwing water bottles - to disperse. Officers, who were backed up by the National Guard, also used rubber bullets and smoke bombs, protesters said.

Some demonstrators were seen attacking cars and property with baseball bats, news agency Reuters reported, while others set cars alight.

Protests have also spread to a number of other cities, including Portland and Minneapolis.

Blake's shooting comes as the US grapples with the treatment of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement, as well as wider questions about racism in society.

Debates were triggered by the death in police custody in Minneapolis of another black man, George Floyd, in May.

Floyd's death sparked protests around the country, and abroad, and has ignited calls for police reform in the US.

What do we know about the shooting?

Kenosha Police Department said the "officer involved shooting" happened on Sunday.

Police said they were responding to a domestic incident, but so far it is still unclear who called the police and how many officers were involved, and what happened before the shooting. Police in Kenosha do not have body cameras, although they do have microphones.

Lawyers for Blake said he had been trying to "de-escalate a domestic incident" when police drew their weapons.

The person who shot the video, Raysean White, told CNN that before he began taking it, he saw police wrestle, punch and taser Blake.

It was then he started recording. Blake is shown walking around the front of the SUV. The two officers closest to Blake at this point on the video are white males.

As Blake opens the door and leans into the car, one officer can be seen grabbing his shirt and opening fire. Seven shots can be heard in the video, as witnesses shout and scream.

Blake's fiancée Laquisha Booker, described how the children - who witnessed everything as they sat in the back of the car - were screaming as their father was shot.

Speaking to a local NBC channel, she asked why the police would shoot someone "who's not armed, not giving you no problems".

"I've been yelling that the whole time, let me get my kids. So that's not important to y'all. What's important is killing somebody," she said.

Police said that officers had provided "immediate aid" to Blake, who was taken to a hospital in Milwaukee in serious condition.

What has the reaction been?

Wisconsin's Department of Justice is investigating the incident in Kenosha, while the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave. A petition calling for them to be charged has garnered tens of thousands of signatures.

Governor Evers, who is a Democrat, has said there will be a special session of the state legislature on 31 August to discuss a package of laws announced earlier this year on accountability and transparency of the police following the police killing of George Floyd.

Lawmakers had "failed to act" in the two months since he announced the "commonsense policies", the governor tweeted.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Monday released a statement calling for a "full and transparent investigation" of the shooting.


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