19.05.2022

Police fire tear gas in second night of unrest after shooting of black man

Police fired tear gas at protesters in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a second night of unrest following the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of the entrance to the city’s courthouse, chanting “No justice, no peace”.

Mr Blake, who is black, was shot seven times in the back by police officers on Sunday as he tried to get into his car, in which his three children – aged three, five and eight – were sitting. The 29-year-old remains in hospital. Two police officers were placed on administrative leave after video of the incident taken by a neighbour was shared on social media.

A protester in front of a burning truck in Kenosha, Wisconsin during unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake (EPA)

The shooting is the latest in a series of incidents involving violence against African Americans by mainly white police officers which have sparked nationwide uproar and a debate about racial injustice.

On Monday night protesters in Kenosha defied a curfew to confront heavily armoured law enforcement officers who were standing in front of the courthouse. Some demonstrators threw bottles and shot fireworks.

Police fired tear gas about half an hour after the 8pm curfew was meant to have taken effect. Some protesters remained on the scene into the night, shouting at police and lighting fires.

Earlier the governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, said he was mobilising 125 members of the state’s national guard, saying they would be responsible for “guarding infrastructure and making sure our firefighters and others involved are protected”.

Tensions flared during the day when a planned news conference by Kenosha mayor John Antarmian, which was scheduled to take place outside, was suddenly moved into the city’s public safety department.

Protesters rushed towards the building and a door was snapped off its hinges before police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

It was not immediately clear what led to Mr Blake’s shooting. Witnesses suggested he had been breaking up a fight between two women and that he might have become involved in a scuffle with police. One witness said they heard someone shouting “Drop the knife”, although Mr Evers said there was no evidence to suggest that he had a knife or any other weapon.

Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, called for “an immediate, full and transparent investigation” and said the officers “must be held accountable”.

He said: ‘This morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another black American is a victim of excessive force. Those shots pierce the soul of our nation.”

While the subjects of racism, law and order and gun control all came up at the first night of the Republican National Convention, the case of Mr Blake was not discussed.

Pete Deates, president of the Kenosha police union, said: “As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident.”

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