Kenosha police shot an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, seven times in the back Sunday evening. Protests ensued. Blake is currently in serious condition at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee.
Here are some official reactions:
WISCONSIN GOVERNOR TONY EVERS
Tonight, Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kathy and I join his family, friends, and neighbors in hoping earnestly that he will not succumb to his injuries. While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.
We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country—lives like those of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, Tony Robinson, Dontre Hamilton, Ernest Lacy, and Sylville Smith. And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites.
I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and our country for far too long.
MILWAUKEE COUNTY EXECUTIVE DAVID CROWLEY
I join the family and friends of Jacob Blake in praying that he will survive the critical injuries suffered last night as he was shot in the back multiple times by Kenosha police. As a father, it breaks my heart to know that Blake’s children went to sleep last night not knowing if their father would make it through the night. It cuts even deeper to know that he is not the first person of color to have their lives endangered at the hands of law enforcement in this state or nation.
Make no mistake, Blake’s wounds are the result of systemic racism, the policies and practices that entangle our institutions and produce racially disparate outcomes, regardless of the intentions of the people who work within them. It’s the reason why Wisconsin is ranked as the worst place to raise a black child, why child poverty in the Black community is markedly higher compared to their white counterparts, and why Milwaukee County ranks as 71st healthiest county out of 72 counties in the state.
After the murder of George Floyd, Milwaukee County residents took to the streets to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives. Months after Floyd’s death, the people continue to make their voices heard and call for a fundamental change in the way we handle police-community relations, the way we treat communities color, and the way we include each and every person in our society to have their voices heard in our democracy.
At Milwaukee County, we’ve started this process by committing to achieve racial equity and developing the first strategic plan in nearly twenty years through a racial equity lens. But, as a father of young Black children I understand the fierce urgency in which communities of color are demanding change. It’s time to listen to the voice of the people and take action to prevent the unnecessary loss of Black lives at the hands of law enforcement. The time for change is always now. I stand with my brothers and sisters who are standing up for Black lives and making their voices heard.
As we continue to pray for the recovery of Jacob Blake, and learn more details of last night’s events in Kenosha, I urge leaders at both the local and state level to work together and follow the lead of Milwaukee County in declaring racism as a public health crisis and commit to undoing generations of racist policies and practices that continue to cut short the lives of too many residents of color.
MILWAUKEE COMMON COUNCIL PRESIDENT CAVALIER JOHNSON
This morning most of us woke up to news reports documenting unrest that occurred overnight in Kenosha after police shot Jacob Blake, who was unarmed, several times in the back yesterday evening. I hope Jacob makes a full and speedy recovery. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family during this difficult time, and in particular his children, who witnessed this heinous event.
This officer-involved shooting is yet another example of the deep-seated inequities that exist for Black residents across our city, state and country. For months now people have been taking to the streets in protest of these very actions, and while some progress has been made it is very dear we still have a long way to go.
While much of the attention around protests and reform has been focused on larger cities like Milwaukee, Chicago and others, this serves as a sobering reminder that police reform must occur in smaller communities as well.
We will not have achieved true justice until ALL people of color in communities big and small can fed safe and respected when in the presence of those who are sworn to serve and protect.
MILWAUKEE MAYOR TOM BARRETT
The shooting of Jacob Blake is shocking, and, based on what’s visible in the video, appears to lack any possible justification.
Tragically, Mr. Blake’s shooting is not unique. Law enforcement in every community must examine both the use of force and disparate treatment of people of color. There must be change.
The Department of Justice must investigate this incident promptly and thoroughly.
Yesterday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back as police attempted to restrain him from getting into his car. His children watched from inside the car and bystanders watched in disbelief. And this morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force. This calls for an immediate, full and transparent investigation and the officers must be held accountable.
These shots pierce the soul of our nation. Jill and I pray for Jacob’s recovery and for his children.
Equal justice has not been real for Black Americans and so many others. We are at an inflection point. We must dismantle systemic racism. It is the urgent task before us. We must fight to honor the ideals laid in the original American promise, which we are yet to attain: That all men and women are created equal, but more importantly that they must be treated equally.
U.S. SENATOR RON JOHNSON (R)
I support a full & thorough investigation into the events leading up to yesterday’s officer-involved shooting in Kenosha.
While emotions are understandably running high in the Kenosha community and elsewhere, I urge any demonstrators to remain peaceful and give our justice system the opportunity to work.
U.S. SENATOR TAMMY BALDWIN (D)
The video from Kenosha of a Black man being shot is terrifying to watch and we need a full and independent investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice to get all the facts about this police shooting. As we pray for Jacob Blake to live, let peaceful protests lead the way to the answers we seek, and justice.
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE GWEN MOORE (D)
What happened yesterday to Jacob Blake is an all too frequent experience for Black people in America.
Jacob was shot in the back multiple times in front of his children. Trauma was inflicted on not only Jacob, but on his innocent children. My heart aches for him and his family. I am praying that he makes a full recovery from his serious injuries.
We must rid our communities and our systems of the racism that results in biased policing practices, creating devastating tragedies for Black men and women. We all must treat racism as the public health emergency that it is and take appropriate action to keep other families and communities from being traumatized by these reckless shootings.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice must conduct a thorough investigation as part of the process of ensuring that police officers are held accountable when excessive, violent force is used.
I am tired of condemning these shootings which is why I joined my colleagues in the House in passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120) to begin making the steps necessary to build greater transparency, accountability and fairness in policing. I am calling for action from the Senate Majority Leader to bring this bill to the Senate floor. I am also calling on the majority in the Wisconsin State Legislature to take up the police reform measures laid out by our Governor and Lieutenant Governor earlier this year.
The longer these bills languish the longer justice is delayed and denied. Our communities are calling for change right now, and they cannot and should not wait any longer for meaningful action.
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BRYAN STEIL (R-Kenosha)
We need the Wisconsin Department of Justice to conduct a thorough, independent, exhaustive investigation into the officer-involved shooting in Kenosha. We must support each other and our Kenosha community, and we cannot allow violence and destruction.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE TOD OHNSTAD (D-Kenosha)
While we are still waiting for further details about how this unfolded, we are all stunned by the events that resulted in a police officer shooting a man named Jacob Blake in our community today.
As we move forward, we will learn more about what transpired this afternoon. The gravity of the case unquestionably requires investigation. The only focus now must be on ensuring justice is served. Under state law, the Wisconsin Department of Justice will oversee the case as an outside, independent law enforcement agency.
Throughout my life and career I have marched and acted to overcome injustices wherever I see them. I have stood opposed to excessive force and unnecessary escalation by law enforcement and in support of transparency and accountability. Police are entrusted with great responsibility and must be held to the highest standard.
Throughout the conversations I have had tonight, in the absence of a greater understanding of what occurred, the primary feeling expressed has been a deep anger and sadness that something like this would happen in our neighborhoods. These are streets where bicycles should be flying by, rather than bullets. My heart and thoughts are with Jacob and his friends and family in the aftermath of this shooting.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE JIM STEINEKE (R-Kaukauna)
What we must now do is await further details and see the Department of Justice-lead investigation of this shooting through to its conclusion without racing towards judgment.
Any protests that occur must be peaceful. Violence begets violence and does nothing to further any cause. While the wheels of justice turn slowly, justice itself is what everyone deserves and cannot be prejudged or predetermined.
I encourage elected officials to resist the temptation to rush to judgment as well. The frustration and anger that many in our communities are feeling must be met with empathy, but cannot be further fueled by politicians’ statements or actions that can stoke flames of violence.
What we can and should do is encourage, emphatically, peace in our communities and a fair and just investigation that answers the questions we all have. I hope you’ll all join me in praying for all of those involved.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE GORDON HINTZ (D-Oshkosh)
Last night, Jacob Blake was shot in the back by police officers seven times at close range in front of his children. Brutality like this towards Black people is a reoccurring event in our country. No matter how complicated systemic racism is, a representative government has a responsibility to do everything in its power to address the forces that disproportionately impact Black lives.
While we don’t yet know the full details, we understand the long-lasting impact this will have on the Kenosha community. This morning, I am sending my sympathy to those effected by this tragic event and pray for Jacob’s recovery. His family is in my thoughts today.
Black lives matter. We cannot stop repeating this until we understand its meaning and put that meaning into action. I stand with those who continue to peacefully march for Black Lives and equality in our country. I stand with those who want their leaders to act in support of real change. We can no longer turn away from the role systemic racism plays in our society.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE VAN WANGGAARD (R-Racine)
The video of a Kenosha Police Officer shooting Jacob Blake appears shocking.
Although the video that is publicly available at this time provides a picture of the incident, it is also important to remember that there is a great deal that cannot be seen, and many witnesses who saw the events leading up to and during the event from different perspectives. That is why there should be, and will be, a thorough, independent investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice into the shooting of Mr. Blake. If the independent investigation shows the shooting to be unjustified, people will be held accountable.
Exhale. Everyone should take a deep breath. There is an investigatory process that must be followed, so no evidence is overlooked. We must let law and reason, not emotion, guide the next steps. I know passions and tensions are high right now between certain communities and law enforcement. It’s important to realize that tension goes both ways. Although each situation is unique, it is easy to lump every interaction together when it is the perceived reality you live in. But nothing justifies the violence and destruction we saw last night.
By improving the accountability of police, by increasing community involvement to promote better understandings between the community and police, and by being as transparent as possible, we can permanently improve the situation and change the narrative to the better. The healing won’t occur overnight, but it can and must be improved by working together.
I hesitate to do this, because the situation in Kenosha stands on its own, but I am extremely shocked by the content of Governor Evers’ statement last night. The best leaders attempt to diffuse situations, not escalate them. Evers’ statement was irresponsible and inflammatory. He jumped to conclusions without first having all the facts. At a time when stereotyping situations is especially risky, Evers’ stereotyped of every police interaction with people of color – harming both.
Last night, I asked the Governor to provide all necessary assistance to both the city and county of Kenosha, including the National Guard. I was told he was providing such assistance. After the events of yesterday afternoon and Evers’ statement last night, Kenosha will need all the help it can get – especially your prayers.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE GRETA NEUBAUER (D-Racine)
I am horrified, sickened and angry over the police shooting of Jacob Blake last night.
It is long past time for deep and systemic change. Change in how we police, how we prosecute and how we incarcerate. But also change in how we invest in and strengthen our communities.
Continued police violence against Black people is a symptom of the systemic racism and white supremacy deeply embedded in our country’s past and present. Leaders at every level — federal, state, local — cannot continue to stand by.
I support the right to protest in Kenosha and I will be joining people in the streets. Today and in the days to come, my thoughts are with Jacob, his family, and his community, and I am sending them strength in this time.
Black Lives Matter.
MILWAUKEE ALDERWOMAN JOCASTA ZAMARRIPA
Like so many Wisconsinites, I was horrified to see the video of Jacob Blake being shot multiple times in the back by Kenosha police. Additionally, I understand that Mr. Blake’s children were in the car and witnessed their father being shot, a trauma no child should have to endure.
This is a tragedy that should have and could have been prevented. As a state legislator and a new alderwoman in Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin, I have heard sentiments coming from folks on all sides of this fight for police reform, Black Lives Matter, and the police budget.
I write this statement, in particular, for the people of the 8th Aldermanic District. This is the district I represent on Milwaukee’s near south side, where I was born and raised. My constituents tell me that public safety is their number one concern. No mother should worry if their son will come home at night, no child should witness their father being brutally attacked and everyone in Wisconsin should feel safe in their own neighborhood. Public safety will always be compromised if any life is devalued more than another.
Ours is arguably the most diverse district in the great state of Wisconsin, home to a 75% supermajority of people of color, a Latino-majority district, and a proud history of Polish and German immigrant families, many of whom still call the near south side home, I am proud to say.
Public safety continues to be my #1 concern because I know that it is my constituents’ #1 concern. And it is why, as a state representative, a Milwaukee alderwoman, and a Wisconsinite, I condemn this senseless tragedy. We cannot have our law enforcement shooting constituents in the back multiple times, in front of their children.
We must ask for justice, demand reform, and cry out, “Black Lives Matter.”
The Bucks organization is praying for the recovery of Jacob Blake, who was shot multiple times in the back by a police officer at point blank range in Kenosha, Wisconsin yesterday. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.
We stand firmly against reoccurring issues of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the black community.
Our organization will continue to stand for all black lives as we demand accountability and systemic change on behalf of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sylville Smith, Ernest Lacy, Dontre Hamilton, Tony Robinson, Joel Acevedo and countless other victims. We will work to enact policy change so these incidents no longer exist.
MILWAUKEE POLICE ASSOCIATION
While the video in Kenosha, Wisconsin may show some troubling things, protesting must remain calm. It must remain peaceful. The Milwaukee Police Association does not have any issues with peaceful protesting.
I am very disturbed by the comments that were made by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers. Governor Evers appears to be pushing a narrative that completely disrespects law enforcement in our state. As the Governor of Wisconsin, his duty should be to collect all the details before pushing a false ideology. Governor Evers decided to make a statement, not based on facts, but based on hunches. Governor Evers has decided to let his opinions be known. Governor Evers does not know all of the facts. In fact, the MPA does not know all of the facts in this case. Let the investigators do their job and investigate. Let the facts comes out before making a statement that a person has “been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state…”
Politicians need to remain calm until everything comes out. By rushing to judgement, without knowing all of the facts, this will only fuel the cause of others to protest in a manner that isn’t peaceful. Reckless comments, without all of the facts, can only lead someone to a rush of judgement which will result in emotions taking over.
WISCONSIN DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR BEN WINKLER
This evening in Wisconsin, Kenosha police shot an unarmed Black father, Jacob Blake, in front of his children. It’s a sickening, infuriating tragedy, and a symptom of the deadly disease of white supremacy and racism that must be confronted and defeated in our state and nation.
We send our deepest prayers to Jacob Blake, and wish him and his loved ones strength in his recovery. This is yet another horrifying reminder of the violence of white supremacy, which devalues, maims, and ends Black lives in our state.
WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) is investigating an officer involved shooting (OIS) in Kenosha, Wis. that occurred on the evening of Sunday, August 23, 2020.
The shooting occurred when Kenosha police officers responded to a reported domestic incident in the 2800 block of 40th Street.
Law enforcement immediately provided medical aid to the person who was shot. Flight for Life transported the person to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee. The person is in serious condition.
DCI is leading this investigation and is assisted by Wisconsin State Patrol and Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office. All involved law enforcement are fully cooperating with DCI during this investigation. The involved officers have been placed on administrative leave.
DCI is continuing to review evidence and determine the facts of this incident and will turn over investigative reports to a prosecutor following a complete and thorough investigation.
If members of the public have any further information regarding this incident, please contact law enforcement.
When DCI is the lead investigating agency of a shooting involving a law enforcement officer, DCI aims to provide a report of the incident to the prosecutor within 30 days. The prosecutor then reviews the report and makes a determination about what charges, if any, are appropriate. If the prosecutor determines there is no basis for prosecution of the law enforcement officer, DCI will thereafter make the report available to the public.
There has been speculation on social media about the identities of those involved in this incident. The public is advised to await identifying information from an official source.
No additional details are currently available.
Please direct all media inquiries regarding this incident to DOJ.
KENOSHA PROFESSIONAL POLICE ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT PETE DEATES
Anytime deadly force is used, our hearts go out to those affected by it. We assure you an independent investigation is being conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation.
Until that investigation is completed, we ask that you withhold prejudgment about the incident and please the let process take place. Governor Evers’ statement on the incident was wholly irresponsIble and not reflective of the hardworking members of the law enforcement community, not to mention the citizens of the City of Kenosha.
As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident. We ask that you withhold from passing judgement until all the facts are known and released.
We, along with the citizens of the great City of Kenosha, ask for peace and to let the process play out fairly and impartially.
ACLU OF WISCONSIN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CHRIS OTT
Let’s not mince words: The police shooting that occurred in Kenosha Sunday evening looks like attempted murder. News outlets have reported that Mr. Blake, the man shot seven times in the back by Kenosha PD, was attempting to break up a fight between two women before he was shot. He did not appear to be armed and was walking away from police when an officer repeatedly shot him with his back turned and in front of his children. While his family endures this deep and lasting trauma, Mr. Blake now fights for his life at a local hospital, put there by the very people sworn to protect and serve the community.
These repeated acts of violence against Black people by police have created a clear message: the police do not value the lives of the people in the Black and brown communities they serve in the same way that they do their own. For the last three months, people in Wisconsin and across the country have taken to the streets to protest the routine harassment and abuse that people of color experience at the hands of law enforcement. This cruel, avoidable, and gruesome shooting once again demonstrates why the task of transforming American policing is so urgent. Reform is not enough.