Two people were shot dead and another was injured during a night of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the United States, over the police shooting of an unarmed African-American man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The police shot the man, identified as Jacob Blake, multiple times on the evening of August 23 in Kenosha town. His family said he has been left paralysed.
The Kenosha Police issued a statement that around 11.45 pm local time (10.15 am Indian Standard Time on Wednesday) on Tuesday, they responded to reports of shots being fired and multiple gunshot victims on 63rd Street and Sheridan Road. “The shooting resulted in two fatalities and a third gunshot victim was transported with serious, but non-life threatening injuries,” the statement said.
The police said they were carrying out an investigation into the shooting. The names and ages of the victims were still being determined, they added.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told The New York Times that the shootings took place near the petrol pump. He said the investigation was focused on the group of men with guns outside the gas station, and that the investigators were looking for videos of the incident.
A mobile phone video of at least two of the shootings that was posted on social media showed what appeared to be a white man with a rifle jogging down the middle of a street as a crowd and some police officers followed him, AP reported. A person in the crowd was heard telling another that he had shot somebody.
The man with the gun stumbled and fell, and then fired three or four shots into the crowd from a sitting position, hitting at least two individuals, one of whom collapsed. After the protestors tried to take control of his rifle, he fired multiple rounds, causing them to flee.
Meanwhile, demonstrators clashed with law enforcement officials near the county courthouse. They threw water bottles, rocks and fireworks at the police. The police responded to the nightlong protests with teargas shelling and rubber bullets, telling the demonstrators that they were violating the night curfew of 8 pm, imposed in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The mob was eventually forced out of the courthouse using teargas, but the protests continued on the street.
Some of the protestors then walked to a petrol pump nearby. A group of men with guns stood outside the gas station, promising to protect the property and shouting at the arriving protestors. Overnight, a crowd gathered near the gas station and there were arguments and occasional physical fights.
After midnight, shots were fired outside the gas station, killing the two persons and wounding the third, Beth said.
On Tuesday, Blake’s mother Julia Jackson told the press that she opposed violent protests. “I’ve noticed a lot of damage,” she said. “It doesn’t reflect my son or my family.”
On earlier nights, buildings and trucks had been burned down in Kenosha. More than 100 members of the Wisconsin National Guard have been deployed in the city. There were also several reports of armed robberies.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declared a state of emergency on Tuesday as protestors clashed with the police for the third consecutive night. The governor also said that he would bring in more National Guard personnel to Kenosha to control the violent protests.
Jacob Blake’s shooting
In a video footage shared on social media, three officers were seen pointing their weapons at Blake as he walked around a parked car. As he opened the door and leaned into the car, an officer grabbed his shirt and fired. The officers fired several shots – seven, according to the man’s father.
According to Blake’s lawyer Ben Crump, his children – aged three, five and eight – were in the car when he was shot by the police. He also said that there was no indication that Blake was carrying any weapons. Crump said Blake would require a “miracle” to be able to walk again.
The US has been witnessing massive anti-racism protests since May, following the death of George Floyd. On May 25, Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed African-American man, was killed after a white former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers involved in Floyd’s death – J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – were also charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. Another African-American man named Rayshard Brooks was shot dead by the police in June.