Police in the midwestern U.S. city of Kenosha, Wisconsin say two people have been shot and killed during a third consecutive night of protests over the shooting of a Black man by police on Sunday.
Cell phone video posted on social media show a man carrying what appears to be an assault rifle running down a major street being chased by a group of people. The man shot at several of his pursuers as they began to surround him after he fell to the ground.
A statement by the Kenosha Police Department says in addition to the two fatalities, one person has been taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The shootings occurred as protests stretched from Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning. News outlets say the shooting happened during a confrontation between protesters and several bystanders several blocks from the city courthouse. Earlier in the evening, protesters had clashed with police for several hours until they were driven out of the area by police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.
Tuesday’s violent protests came hours after the father of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot by police Sunday, said his son is paralyzed from the waist down.
Blake’s father, who is also named Jacob Blake, told the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper Tuesday his son has “eight holes” in his body from his confrontation with police. He said doctors do not know if the paralysis will be permanent.
Ben Crump, the lawyer for the injured man, said it would “take a miracle” for him to walk again. He said Blake’s spinal cord was severed and his vertebrae shattered. Another family lawyer said several organs were damaged as well.
Police have so far released almost no information about what led up to the shooting Sunday evening other than to say they were responding to a domestic dispute.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Tuesday doubled the number of National Guardsmen deployed in Kenosha, a working-class city between Milwaukee and Chicago, and declared a state of emergency in the state.
“We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue,” Evers said in a statement. “We also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction.”
Kenosha Fire Chief Charles Leipzig told the Kenosha News fires started during the protests destroyed or badly damaged 30 businesses as well as an unknown number of residences.
On Tuesday, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth warned people to stay away from the city and urged residents to abide by the curfew that would be in effect from 8 p.m. Tuesday until 7 a.m. Wednesday local time.
Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, pleaded for calm Tuesday, saying the damage “doesn’t reflect my son or my family” and that she has been praying for the country to heal.
Cellphone video of the incident on Sunday shows Blake walking around the front of an SUV, in which three of his children were sitting. Two police officers appear to be following with their guns pointed at him. When Blake opens the car door and leans in, an officer appears to grab his shirt from behind and fires. In the video, seven shots were heard along with people screaming and shouting.
Crump told ABC News one officer fired all seven shots, four of which hit Blake. Crump said there is no sign Blake was armed, adding he was trying to break up an argument between two women. It is unclear who the women are and their ties to Blake and his children.
Sunday’s shooting came after a spring and summer of nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in May while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. There have also been other highly publicized killings of African Americans by police.
The shootings gave new life to the Black Lives Matter movement, and elevated racism and law and order into key issues for the presidential campaign.
The officers involved in Sunday’s shooting are on administrative leave.
The president of the Kenosha police union, Pete Deates, is urging people not to jump to conclusions about Sunday’s incident.
“As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident,” he said.
Pastor Norma Urrabazo of the International Church of Las Vegas included Blake as she led the opening prayer on the second night of the Republican National Convention Tuesday.
„We pray for healing and comfort to Jacob Blake and his family. We pray for your protection over those who put their lives in harm’s way to bring safety and security to our streets,“ she said.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Monday “These shots pierce the soul of our nation. Equal justice has not been real for Black Americans and so many others … we must dismantle systemic racism.”