Two shot dead during protests in Wisconsin after police shooting of black man

Two shot dead during protests in Wisconsin after police shooting of black man
Police clear a park during clashes with protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse (AP/David Goldman)

Two people have died and one was injured after shots were fired in Kenosha during the third night of unrest in Wisconsin following the shooting of a black man by police.

The shooting was reported at about 11.45pm in an area where protests have taken place, Kenosha Police Lieutenant Joseph Nosalik said. The injured person was in serious condition at a local hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

The shooting is under investigation and no other information has been released. The victims have not been identified.

A protester is helped after police used tear gas (AP/David Goldman)

Jacob Blake, who was shot shot multiple times by police in Wisconsin, is paralysed, and it would “take a miracle” for him to walk again, his family’s lawyer said, while calling for the officer who opened fire to be arrested and others involved to lose their jobs.

The shooting of Mr Blake on Sunday in Kenosha – apparently in the back while three of his children looked on – was captured on mobile phone video and ignited new protests over racial injustice in several cities, coming just three months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis sparked mass protests.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Blake’s father spoke alongside other family members and lawyers, telling reporters that police shot his son “seven times, seven times, like he didn’t matter”.

“But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters,” said Mr Blake’s father, who is also named Jacob Blake.

The 29-year-old is in surgery, said lawyer Ben Crump, adding that the bullets severed Mr Blake’s spinal cord and shattered his vertebrae. Another lawyer said there was also severe damage to organs.

Protesters shake a fence outside the Kenosha County Courthouse (AP/David Goldman)

“It’s going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr to ever walk again,” Mr Crump said.

The legal team plans to file a civil lawsuit against the police department over the shooting.

Police have said little about what happened, other than that they were responding to a domestic dispute. The officers involved have not been named. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating.

Police fired tear gas for a third night on Tuesday to disperse protesters who had gathered outside Kenosha’s courthouse, where some shook a protective fence and threw water bottles and fireworks at officers lined up behind it. Police then used armoured vehicles and officers with shields pushed back the crowd when protesters ignored warnings to leave a nearby park.

Wisconsin governor Tony Evers had called for calm on Tuesday, while also declaring a state of emergency under which he doubled the National Guard deployment in Kenosha from 125 to 250. The night before crowds destroyed dozens of buildings and set more than 30 fires in the city centre.

“We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue,” said Mr Evers, who is facing mounting pressure from Republicans over his handling of the unrest. “We also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction.”

Mr Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, said the damage in Kenosha does not reflect what her family wants and that, if her son could see it, he would be “very unpleased”.

She said the first thing her son said to her when she saw him was he was sorry.

“He said, ‘I don’t want to be a burden on you guys,’” Ms Jackson said. “’I want to be with my children, and I don’t think I’ll walk again.’”

Three of the younger Blake’s sons – aged three, five and eight – were in the car at the time of the shooting, Mr Crump said. It was the eight-year-old’s birthday, he added.

The man who said he made the mobile phone video of the shooting, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Mr Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before the gunfire erupted. He said he did not see a knife in Mr Blake’s hands.

A protester throws an object towards police (AP/David Goldman)

In the footage, Mr Blake walks from the pavement around the front of his vehicle to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns drawn and shout at him. As Mr Blake opens the door and leans into the vehicle, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire. Seven shots can be heard, though it is not clear how many struck Mr Blake or how many officers fired.

Mr Blake’s father told the Chicago Sun-Times that his son had eight holes in his body.

Anger over the shooting has spilled into the streets of Kenosha and other cities, including Los Angeles, Wisconsin’s capital of Madison and in Minneapolis, the epicentre of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer following Mr Floyd’s death.

Hundreds of people again defied a curfew on Tuesday in Kenosha, where destruction marred protests the previous night as fires were set and businesses were vandalised.

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