Jacob Blake’s father has received threats in the aftermath of his son’s shooting, he says
The police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the ensuing protests have led to threats against the 29-year-old’s family, Blake’s father tells CNN.
“It is saddening to me that people don’t understand the type of pressure this family is under and what the rest of the family is dealing with,” Jacob Blake Sr. said, adding that his other son, 20, was recently hospitalized because he suffered from depression.
Blake’s family planned a peaceful afternoon rally — complete with a community cleanup, food drive, healing circle and voter registration booth — at the site of the police shooting.
President Donald Trump arrived Tuesday afternoon in the city of 100,000 located on Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee. He headed to the protest site to inspect damaged property and was greeted by a mix of supporters and Black Lives Matter signs. He will not meet with Blake’s family, he has said.
Shortly before Air Force One landed at nearby Waukegan National Airport, Blake’s friends and relatives directed their criticism toward the President and his visit.
“He is here to sow chaos and fear. We reject these attempts to divide us,” said Tanya McLean, a Blake family friend who helped organize the event.
Added Blake’s uncle, Justin, in a statement promoting the rally: “We don’t need more pain and division from a President set on advancing his campaign at the expense of our city.”
Protests have erupted in Kenosha, as differing accounts of what took place August 23 emerge. The protests are part of a larger, nationwide call for justice in the deaths of Black people at the hands of police.
While the state Justice Department has launched a probe in Blake’s shooting, Kenosha authorities are investigating the fatal shooting of two protesters. Kyle Rittenhouse — who is from Antioch, Illinois, about 20 miles from Kenosha — was arrested in connection with the deaths, as well as the shooting of another person.
The teen was acting in “100% self-defense” while protecting local businesses, Rittenhouse’s attorney, John Pierce, told Fox News.
“A 17-year-old lifeguard who is attempting to protect the businesses and his community, and attempting to help wounded protesters and was protecting his own life while Kenosha was burning, why is he the one sitting in jail tonight as forces within this country sickeningly attempt to find a way to bring harm to him while he is detention?” Pierce said.
Attorney: Another video will explain everything
While two videos show different moments of the encounter between police and Blake, Ben Crump, an attorney for the Blake family, revealed the existence of another video he says will definitively show what happened. It will clear up misconceptions and doesn’t require interpretation, he said.
“The video is what it is, and it shows that Jacob Blake never posed a threat to those officers. He was always trying to get away from them,” Crump said.
The Kenosha Professional Police Association alleges Blake fought with officers trying to arrest him, put one officer in a headlock and carried a knife he refused to drop when ordered to do so.
Raysean White, who recorded video of Blake being shot, has said he didn’t see Blake holding a knife or harming officers, but he saw only part of the incident.
Kenosha officials did not address specifics of the shooting during a Monday news conference, but city and state police were not in attendance. The mayor, a National Guard representative and county officials instead focused on protests.
“The last five days have been closer to normal for Kenosha,” Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said. “Protests have been peaceful, and we are very, very thankful for that.”
A curfew for the city has been extended through Tuesday night and will be relaxed to begin at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Mayor John Antaramian said.
Blake’s father won’t ‘play politics,’ he says
Trump has said he would not meet with Blake’s family on Tuesday because they want to involve lawyers.
“I thought it would be better not to do anything where there were lawyers involved. They wanted me to speak. They wanted to have lawyers involved, and I thought that was inappropriate, so I didn’t do that, but I did speak with the pastor of the family,” Trump said.
The family’s objective is to support Blake and ensure he receives justice, Crump said.
“I don’t know why the President wouldn’t want the family to have their lawyers on the phone,” the attorney told CNN. “He seems to have lawyers with him when he talks to people.”
Jacob Blake Sr. isn’t going to “play politics,” he said.
“This is my son’s life we are talking about,” the father said. “It is all about my son, man. It has nothing to do with a photo op. It has to do with Jacob’s operation.”
Trump’s visit is poorly timed, Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser and the Kenosha mayor have said, with the former saying he’d prefer the President pick a later date.
“I am disappointed he is coming. Our community has gone through a great deal,” the mayor said. “At this time, it’s just the wrong time. It’s a time for us to heal.”
A visit by any major figure will create extra work for the sheriff’s department, Beth said. He declined to comment on the appropriateness of the visit, saying it wasn’t his place, but he said the timing won’t affect his agency’s mission.
“I know that he is coming and that we will do our best to protect him,” the sheriff said.
A small plane flew over Kenosha on Tuesday morning, carrying a banner that read, “Reject Trump’s violence. Vote November.”
Trump told reporters he was heading to Kenosha because the city would’ve been “burned to the ground” had his administration not sent in the National Guard — a claim denied by Kreuser and others — and he intends to “really say hello” to police and Guard members.
US Rep. Bryan Steil, a Republican who represents Kenosha County, applauded the President’s decision to thank those who, he agrees, restored order after the protests turned violent.
“It’s positive he is coming to thank them and to help begin the process of healing and rebuilding our community,” the congressman said.
Wisconsin Legislature takes no action
As the investigation and protests continue, legislators about 100 miles northwest in Madison decided not to take action on police reform.
Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, called a special session Monday. Republicans, who control the Legislature, started the session and recessed in both houses inside 30 seconds, according to video retweeted by Rep. Jim Steineke, majority leader of the state Assembly.
State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, also a Republican, asked Steineke to start a task force and “lead the important statewide discussion on racial disparities, educational opportunities, public safety and police policies and standards,” he said.
“After the tragic events this past week, the best way forward is not through divisive and partisan politics but through bipartisan cooperation,” Vos’ statement read.
Evers criticized the move as a missed opportunity.
“It’s disappointing that there’s no sense of urgency from Republicans, and it’s a letdown to all the people who are asking us to lead,” he said. “The people of Wisconsin don’t want another task force or more delays. They want action and results, and they want it today.”
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