Jacob Blake: Hundreds rally outside Wisconsin courthouse a week after police shooting

30 August 2020, 11:08

At least 1,000 protesters rallied outside Kenosha County Courthouse on Saturday night
At least 1,000 protesters rallied outside Kenosha County Courthouse on Saturday night. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Hundreds of protesters rallied outside a Wisconsin courthouse to denounce police violence a week after an officer shot a black man in the back.

The diverse group of protesters chanted "seven bullets, seven days" - a reference to the number of times 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot last Sunday - as they marched toward the courthouse in Kenosha.

It follows days of demonstrations against the alleged mistreatment of black people by police forces across the US, with protests and riots breaking out across the country.

Earlier in the week, Mr Blake's father, Jacob Blake Sr, gave an impassioned call for changing a system he described as fostering police brutality and racial inequities.

Read more: Thousands attend march on Washington commemorations to protest police brutality

"There were seven bullets put in my son's back. Hell yeah, I'm mad," Mr Blake Sr said.

"What gave (the police) the right to attempted murder on my child? What gave them the right to think that my son was an animal? What gave them the right to take something that was not theirs? I'm tired of this."

Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey and two other officers were responding to a domestic abuse call last Sunday when Mr Sheskey shot Mr Blake in the back.

Mr Blake Sr told reporters on Saturday that his son is heavily sedated, but has regained consciousness.

"He's in a lot of pain," he said.

"I just wish I could pick my baby up and make it all right."

Jacob Blake's father spoke to protesters at a rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin
Jacob Blake's father spoke to protesters at a rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Picture: PA Images

Protesters have marched in Kenosha every night since Mr Blake's shooting, with some protests devolving into unrest with damage to buildings and vehicles.

The commander of the National Guard said on Friday that more than 1,000 Guard members had been deployed to help keep the peace, with more on the way.

On Tuesday, two people were killed by an armed civilian, which has prompted a fierce debate over violent protests and those trying to protect their business and property.

Kyle Rittenhouse grabbed an AR-15 style rifle and joined several other armed people where businesses had been vandalised and buildings burned.

Days later, Facebook admitted it made a mistake in not removing counter-protest militia group's page earlier this week that called for armed civilians to enter Kenosha.

Read more: Jacob Blake shooting: Donald Trump 'sending National Guard' to Wisconsin

The page for the "Kenosha Guard" violated Facebook's policies and had been flagged by "a bunch of people", CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a video posted on Friday.

President Donald Trump will visit Kenosha on Tuesday to meet with law enforcement and survey damage from recent demonstrations that turned violent, White House spokesman Judd Deere told reporters travelling with the president on Saturday night.

Several of Saturday's speakers encouraged the crowd to vote for change in November, and to push for changing legislation in Wisconsin that would lead to police reform.

In Portland, Oregon, police confirmed that one person was fatally shot during clashes between supporters of President Trump and counter-protesters on Saturday.

Read more: Jacob Blake shooting: Police officer named as protests reach NBA

A number of major fights broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles with Donald Trump supporters was confronted by protesters in the city's downtown, but it remains unclear if the shooting was linked to the incident.

Fights broke out after hundreds of Donald Trump supporters drove into downtown Portland, Oregon
Fights broke out after hundreds of Donald Trump supporters drove into downtown Portland, Oregon. Picture: PA Images

In a statement, Portland Police Bureau said: "Portland Police officers heard sounds of gunfire from the area of Southeast 3rd Avenue and Southwest Alder Street."

"They responded and located a victim with a gunshot wound to the chest. Medical responded and determined that the victim was deceased."

Read more: Jacob Blake shooting: Two dead during Wisconsin protests

The caravan of Mr Trump's supporters had gathered earlier in the day at a nearby mall and drove as a group to the heart of Portland.

As they arrived in the city, protesters attempted to stop them by standing in the street and blocking bridges.