Jacob Blake shooting: 1 year later

It's been a year since Jacob Blake was shot by a Kenosha police officer during a domestic incident.

The shooting prompted days of protests and evenings of unrest, fires and the shooting deaths of two protesters.

Healing is still being sought — especially here in the uptown neighborhood, in which several businesses were destroyed in massive fires in the days that followed the shooting.

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The district attorney cleared all officers of any criminal wrongdoing..

Now, clergy hold moments of reflection and a planned prayer walk through the neighborhood -- which still bears the scars from the wounds of that week a year ago.

But for some young people, there is hope.

"For people who are not people of color, it goes away. But for me, this is my life. I still have to think about this," said Na’Kia Hughes, a UW-Parkside student.

"Realistically, I want to have optimism. I really do. But at the same time, it’s like a battle we keep on fighting," said DaRon Green, a Lakeview student.

Daron Green, Na'kia Hughes, along with Shenia Martin and Aniyah Ervin, sharing their thoughts of the last year at Civic Center Park, which became the focal point of days and nights of protests that began a year ago.

Kenosha police officers were responding to a domestic incident on August 23rd and said Jacob Blake, who had a warrant out for his arrest, was armed with a knife, which Blake later admitted.


Officer Rusten Sheskey, Jacob Blake

Officers used a taser but didn't work. When Blake opened the door to a car, Officer Rusten Sheskey, who is white, said he feared Blake would stab him and shot Blake seven times, four times in the back.

Blake, who is Black, survived but is paralyzed.

The shooting sparked days of protests and nights of unrest...several businesses, like an auto sales lot, a furniture store and several properties in Uptown went up in massive blazes...

Two protesters were also shot and killed. Prosecutors have charged a white Illinois man with killing protesters Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum.

In January, the Blake shooting was ruled justified.

"I really feel we have a lot more to learn from, a lot more to grow with, but we are on the right track," Aniyah Ervin, a 17-year-old Kenosha Bradford senior.

Since those events, Wisconsin lawmakers passed several bi-partisan policing reform bills — a sense of cautious optimism.

"Instead of reading history, we are becoming history. So there’s no blueprint, there’s no right way to do it. There’s no wrong way to do it, except not coming together," said Shenia Martin, a Journey Ministry College grad.

And hoping that sense of community continues.

In March, Blake filed a lawsuit accusing Sheskey of using excessive force. Sheskey returned to duty in April...


Statement from Gov. Tony Evers

"One year ago today, Jacob Blake’s life was forever changed. While we are grateful Jacob survived his injuries, we also know Jacob, his kids, and his family have and will face challenges they never imagined having to endure. We also know the families and friends of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber are undoubtedly grieving and mourning the loss of these young men this week. Kathy and I are thinking of Jacob and his loved ones, as well as the families and friends of Joseph and Anthony today, and we ask Wisconsinites to join us in extending our prayers for peace and healing. 

"This past year has been difficult, and especially for the Kenosha community as they have worked to come together to repair and rebuild. Wisconsin has taken important steps to increase transparency for use of force policies and incidents, limit the use of chokeholds, and require state-managed law enforcement agencies to update their use of force policies, but this is only the beginning. We must remain resolved in addressing the systemic racism and inequities Black Wisconsinites face every day and to continuing our work toward a just, equitable, and fair state."

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State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine)

"Too many people today are misrepresenting the facts of what happened one year ago in Kenosha. A couple of seconds of video repeated endlessly in the media fails to put the incident in perspective.

"At the time Jacob Blake was shot, he was at minimum trying to kidnap children. At worst, he was turning with a knife to attack a police officer.

"Prior to being shot, Blake ignored police demands to drop the open knife he held in his hand.

"While armed with the knife, he wrestled with officers - putting one in a headlock, while actively resisting his attempted arrest.

"Police were attempting to lawfully arrest Blake on a felony sexual assault warrant, and had been called to the scene for a domestic disturbance and attempted car theft.

"To make the arrest, police attempted to subdue him using non-lethal force. Three times police deployed Tasers to gain control of the situation. Blake removed the Taser prongs.

"And all of this took less than a minute.

"Blake wasn’t shot in a vacuum. There was a series of events and escalations by Blake leading to the shooting. Ignoring the facts of the incident may serve someone’s political narrative, but that doesn’t change them.

"Facts matter - and they don’t change because you ignore them.

"While thinking and praying for those involved in the incident, please do not forget law enforcement officers and their families all across the state who were impacted as well."

State Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh)

"One year ago today, Jacob Blake was shot and paralyzed by law enforcement here in Wisconsin. My thoughts continue to be with him and with his loved ones.

"As we think back to what happened a year ago, I ask all Wisconsinites to continue to have the difficult but important conversations that are part of working toward reform. Let us all recommit ourselves to addressing systemic racism in our state and in our nation, and to ensuring accountability and transparency in public safety and law enforcement. Black lives matter. While progress has been made in the last twelve months, our work is far from done."

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler

"As these dates bring up traumatic memories for Black Wisconsinites, the Kenosha community, and our state as a whole, we send our deepest condolences to Jacob Blake and to the families of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wish them and their loved ones strength. This year’s anniversary is yet another horrifying reminder of the violence of white supremacy, which devalues, maims, and ends Black lives in our state.

"We have to fight racism head-on. Every single day. On the ground. That work demands all of us -- you, me, and those we elect to represent us. That means having committed leaders who are willing to work proactively for equity and racial justice. I’m proud to say that Gov. Evers has been taking important steps to work towards just that -- including his leadership helping Kenosha repair and rebuild, with millions of dollars directed to support small businesses to ensure the community bounces back.

"Appallingly, instead of moving forward and coming together, Republican politicians relentlessly lie, stir up conflict, and sow division in a community that has been through so much. The GOP’s repeated lies and false ads are a disgusting and unproductive campaign to politicize a tragedy, and a deliberate insult and provocation to those who have been organizing and protesting in defense of Black lives. Republican politicians are trying to distract and divide Wisconsinites, and slow down the movement for racial justice by spreading lies about the state’s response. One year after a series of infuriating and sickening events, the people of Kenosha deserve better.

"We must keep our focus on coming together and fighting for a just and equitable Wisconsin. If our laws do not prevent or address injustice, it is time to change them. This means confronting and defeating racism and white supremacy in our state and in our nation. Black lives matter."

Alex Lasry

"I want to offer my condolences to Jacob and the Blake family, and to all the families of the victims of the senseless violence that occurred in the aftermath of Jacob being shot last summer. 

We can never forget what happened in Kenosha. It is up to each of us to make sure that this year’s anniversary is not just a reminder of last summer's horrifying violence, but a call to action for all the work that is still ahead of us. A year later, we still have not seen true accountability for what happened to Jacob. 

Last summer, people rose up and demanded change. We have seen the Kenosha community come together, lean on one another, and continue to fight for justice. Just this weekend, there was a rally in Kenosha to continue this fight. 

I urge everyone to continue marching and continue supporting the Blake family and Kenosha community as they keep up the fight to ensure that what happened to Jacob does not happen again."


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