Hundreds gather for Kenosha march against police brutality

Hundreds gather for Kenosha march against police brutality
Protesters gather at City Hall (Joshua L Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

A crowd of hundreds have gathered in Kenosha, Wisconsin, for a march and rally against police violence, nearly a week after an officer shot Jacob Blake, leaving the 29-year-old paralysed.

Music played over a loudspeaker as the event began with the atmosphere of a community affair.

Members of Mr Blake’s family, Lt Gov Mandela Barnes, US Rep Gwen Moore and other community leaders were expected to speak.

“We are heartbroken and enraged, but we are steadfast in our demand for justice,” Tanya Mclean, a Blake family friend who helped organise the event, said in a statement.

She said Mr Blake’s shooting is not an isolated incident, but part of a “brutal, racist system”.

Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey (Wisconsin Department of Justice via AP)

“We’re here to demand an end to police violence and systemic racism in Kenosha,” Ms Mclean said.

“No more piecemeal reforms and useless committees. No more Band-Aid solutions over the bullet wounds. The time for transformational change is now.”

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

Mr Blake is paralysed from the shooting, his family said, and is recovering in a Milwaukee hospital.

The shooting, which was captured on cellphone video, sparked new protests against racial injustice and police brutality, just three months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police touched off a wider reckoning on race.

Protesters have marched on Kenosha’s streets every night since, early in the week devolving into unrest with damage to buildings and vehicles.

On Tuesday, two people were killed by an armed civilian. The commander of the National Guard said on Friday that more than 1,000 Guard members had been deployed to help keep the peace, and more were on the way.

Investigators have said little about what led to Mr Blake’s shooting. The Kenosha police union said Mr Blake had a knife and fought with officers, putting one of them in a headlock as two efforts to stun him with a Taser were unsuccessful.

State investigators have said only that officers found a knife on the floor of the car.

In the cellphone footage recorded by a bystander, Mr Blake walks from the pavement around the front of a car 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 car, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire. Three of Mr Blake’s children were in the vehicle.

The man who recorded the video, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he heard police yell at Mr Blake, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before gunfire erupted. Mr White said he did not see a knife in Blake’s hands.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Mr Blake’s family, has said he did nothing to provoke police and has called for Mr Sheskey’s arrest and the firing of the two other officers.

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