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As the residents of Kenosha, Wisconsin, woke up on August 25 to the aftermath of continued protests over the police shooting of an unarmed Black man, his family dealt with their son’s fight to live. Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times by Kenosha Police officers on August 23, remains in the hospital in stable condition after undergoing surgery.
Jacob, 29, has “eight holes” in his body and is paralyzed from the waist down, his father told the Chicago Sun-Times. The younger Blake was shot seven times, his father and police later confirmed. Doctors are unsure if the injury is permanent, the newspaper reported.
The elder Blake described his son as a “very giving individual,” whose family was of utmost importance. Jacob is the father of six children between the ages of three and 13.
Three of his young children witnessed their father be shot by Kenosha Police, family attorney Benjamin Crump confirmed. Jacob was shot after attempting to break up a fight between two women, witnesses said.
“You can only imagine the psychological problems these babies are going to have for the rest of their lives,” Crump told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Jacob’s fiancee and the mother of three of his children told local reporters that officers knew the couple’s children were in the car at the time of the shooting.
“You shot him numerous times, for no reason. It didn’t take all that,” Laquisha Booker told WTMJ-TV. “Disregard that my kids were in the car at all. And you knew they were in there, because I kept screaming that.”
Jacob’s family launched a GoFundMe to pay his medical bills, family expenses, legal representation and support for his six children. The fundraiser has already raised more than $778,000 in the 24 hours since it was launched.
Protests Rock Kenosha
Peaceful protests against Jacob’s brutal shooting on August 24 ended with fire and destruction as businesses and vehicles were set ablaze in Kenosha.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets to demand justice for Jacob and to denounce continued abuse from police. “We want the officer who pulled the trigger fired, arrested and prosecuted,” Clyde McLemore, a Black Lives Matter leader in Lake County, Illinois, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
None of the Kenosha officers responsible for shooting Jacob have been identified, but two of them have been placed on administrative leave. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley and the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) are leading the investigation into the shooting.
“What happened to Jacob Blake is absolutely horrific and clearly shows that our nation is still deep in the battle for the safety and dignity of Black lives. Jacob Blake was shot multiple times in broad daylight in front of his children,” Human Rights Campaign Wisconsin State Director Wendy Strout said in a statement.
Strout continued: “The officers responsible for this senseless shooting must be held accountable for their actions. The investigation should be swift and thorough so that Blake’s family, the people of Kenosha, and all of the U.S., especially Black Americans, can know that we are turning the tide on our nation’s long history of devaluing Black lives, and that we now live in a nation where unjust shootings of Black people by police will not go unpunished.”
In response to protests, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers called in the National Guard to help “protect critical infrastructure, such as utilities and fire stations and to ensure Kenoshians are able to assemble safely,” he said, according to CNN.
The protest took a less peaceful turn after the 8 p.m. curfew took effect, local media reported. Protesters faced off with police and the National Guard outside the Kenosha County Courthouse. While demonstrators threw water bottles and fireworks towards law enforcement, police responded with tear gas, flash bangs and rubber bullets.
“Those police officers that shot my son like a dog in the street are responsible for everything that has happened in the city of Kenosha,” Jacob’s father told the Chicago Sun-Times. “My son is not responsible for it. My son didn’t have a weapon. He didn’t have a gun.”
At the end of each story about the Black Lives Matter protests occurring around the country, we will share the following information on how best to protect yourself:
Protecting Yourself From Tear Gas
- Before being exposed: Do not wear contact lenses or makeup. This could trap the tear gas on your skin and eyes. Try to wear protective goggles if possible. Remember to wear a mask, which you should already be wearing to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Wear long sleeves and long pants to protect as much of your skin as possible.
- If exposed: Get yourself out of the area immediately. The CDC recommends seeking higher ground as most Riot Control Agents (RCAs) are heavier than air.
- Clothing: The RCAs will have contaminated your clothing, be sure to remove the clothes as soon as possible and discard. Clothing that needs to be removed over the head should be cut instead. The CDC recommends wearing rubber gloves and putting the contaminated clothes in a bag and then seal that bag in another bag.
- Exposed Skin: The International News Safety Institute recommends washing with soap and water. First, shower in cold water and then in warm water. Do not bathe. Wash your face as soon as you can, but do not rub the skin as you don’t want to activate the powder in tear gas. Do not rinse your eyes and face with milk, instead use water.
Protecting Yourself: Technology Edition
- Smartphone: Smartphones can easily give out information that police can later use against protesters. Turn off your location data and remove facial and fingerprint recognition. If you need to communicate with friends or family, be sure to download and use the Signal app, which encrypts messages. WIRED recommends Android users head to Settings, then Security and make sure the Encrypt Disk option is selected.
- Social Media: Do not post photos or videos with geotags and consider blurring the faces of protesters when sharing information on social media.
- Police Conduct App: The ACLU has created the Mobile Justice app to record police conduct. You can learn more about the app here.
- Identifying Clothing or Tattoos: It is highly recommended you wear clothing that is not easily identifiable. Be sure to cover any tattoos that can be used by law enforcement to identify you.
- In Case You’re Arrested: Write the number down of a lawyer, organization or friend/family member that you can call if you’re arrested on your skin. Be sure to have a form of ID in your pocket.
Editor’s note: The headline of this story was changed to reflect that Jacob Blake was shot seven times, not eight times, as previously stated.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.