Content warning: police violence, gun violence
Written by Will Hoadley-Brill
Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back as he was attempting to enter his car following a verbal altercation with Kenosha police in Wisconsin yesterday, August 23. The police were initially called Sunday afternoon to address a disturbance between two individuals identified as women by Raysean White who filmed the shooting from across the street. Details regarding the situation have yet to be fully clarified nor released by the Kenosha Police Department. President of the Kenosha Professional Police Association, Pete Deates, states, “As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident.”
Unfortunately, there is very little other video or audio evidence from which to evaluate the situation as police officers in the Kenosha Police Department do not yet have body cameras and the dash cam footage from the police cars present has yet to be released, if the incident was caught on those devices at all. Blake’s involvement in the situation and the exact details of the altercation that prompted the 911 call which brought the police to the scene have yet to be clarified by the police department.
What is clear from the video filmed by White, is that Jacob Blake was shot in the back and there was no weapon visible when the first shot was fired. What more is clear is that that first shot was followed by six more. As has been corroborated by Blake’s fiance, this occurred in front of Blake’s three children who were in the car.
Blake is currently in the ICU and is in serious condition as of August 24.
In a response to the circulation of the video filmed by White, protests have erupted across Wisconsin prompting the declaration of a state of emergency, curfews, and the deployment of the National Guard.
This is the second time that I am writing about police violence against a Black man in the United States in the past five days. Just last week, Pasadena lost Anthony McClain at the hands of the Pasadena Police Department, and Trayford Pellerin was killed by police in Lafayette, Louisiana the day before Blake was shot.
This series of killings of Black men at the hands of police, the origins of which can be traced to the protection of the system of slavery in the American South, are not mistakes of “bad apple” officers, nor are they isolated incidents. Police violence against Black Americans and other Americans of color is an epidemic that must be addressed in every community across the United States.
According to Mapping Police Violence, 1,000 unarmed people were killed by police between 2013 and 2019 and police have killed 751 people in 2020 alone as of August 24. 28% of those who have been killed by police since 2013 have been Black. More data is available on the website of Mapping Police Violence, an organization dedicated to collecting data about police violence and police killings because the federal government does not have a centralized system to do so.
Discussions that focus on the details of each police shooting often do not place that single instance in this larger context which clearly demonstrates a problem that is not the result of individuals, but a system. Furthermore, these discussions often do not focus on the cost of human life that is apparently needed to enforce the law in the current structure of law enforcement.
South Pasadena is not immune to police violence and police killings as demonstrated by the ongoing lawsuit involving the killing of Vanessa Marquez. We must confront our role in obtaining justice in law enforcement. Our first step is understanding that this violence is a pattern in our country, in our state, in our county, and in our city.
This article represents the views and opinions of the author solely and does not express the opinions of all ARC members.