Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday. Now, according to his father, Blake has been handcuffed to his hospital bed by police, despite being paralyzed from the waist down. The shooting of Blake, which was captured on video and shared the very same day, has set off yet another wave of uprisings against racism and police brutality across the country.
The day Blake was shot he was trying to break up a fight between two women on the street when the police showed up. A horrific video shows Blake walking to his car, surrounded by at least three police officers. As he opens up the driver’s side door, an officer opens fire, shooting Blake in the back seven times. His three young children, seated in the back of the car, witnessed the shooting.
Since then, Blake has been in the hospital fighting for his life. While he is finally stable, his family announced that he is paralyzed from the waist down. However, while Blake has committed no crimes and no charges have been brought against him, he remains handcuffed to his hospital bed. This blatantly cruel treatment is clearly meant to punish and intimate Blake and his family, but by handcuffing him to his bed the Kenosha Police Department is also attempting to send a signal to the community and the world that Blake is some kind of dangerous criminal, despite the fact that he was unarmed and showed no aggression toward police before they shot him.
While Blake was in handcuffs, armed right-wing white vigilantes were allowed to roam the streets of Kenosha with impunity. On Tuesday night, a right-wing vigilante militia called on its members to patrol the streets of Kenosha to “protect property.” Video shows the police thanking the vigilantes and giving them water, saying, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.”
That night, a racist white nationalist shot three protesters in Kenosha, killing two. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old, has been arrested and charged with intentional homicide; he was with the militia at its gathering spot. On the night of the shooting, he was allowed by police to leave the scene of his crime peacefully. Footage from later in the night shows the police allowing the shooter to walk through their line undisturbed, even as protesters yell for him to be stopped, screaming that he had just shot someone.
In contrast, protesters supporting Black lives and demanding justice for Blake, were met with tear gas and pepper balls by police. Clearly the police share a common goal with the vigilante militia: protecting private property and repressing Black lives. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul also equated the violence of the vigilante militia with the “violence” of the protesters, calling for “heavily armed vigilantes, arsonists, and other opportunists” who came to Kenosha to “spur chaos” to leave, as though killing two people and injuring another is the same as property damage.
The Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake, Rusten Sheskey, is currently on paid administrative leave and has not been charged with a crime. The police are claiming that a knife was found on the floor of Blake’s car, and it seems the department may intend to leverage this to pass off Sheskey’s shooting as “self-defense.”
What happened to Jacob Blake at the hands of Kenosha police is disgusting. His current treatment — handcuffed to his hospital bed — is utterly despicable. Cops and law enforcement have shown time and again who they serve and protect, and it is clearly not working people or people of color. Cops are beyond reform and must be abolished along with the system of capitalism that necessitates cops.
We demand justice for Jacob Blake and all the victims of racist police violence.