According to news reports, Kenosha police were responding to a 911 call related to an existing warrant on Jacob Blake for felony sexual assault, trespassing, and domestic abuse before Blake was shot on August 23. The Kenosha Professional Police Association issued a statement on Friday that detailed the May assault; police filed charges against Blake in July.
Blake allegedly broke into the bedroom of the victim, an ex-girlfriend, in the early morning of May 3 and sexually assaulted her while one of her children slept beside her. The victim told police that Blake attacks her “around twice a year when he drinks heavily,” the New York Post reported August 28. A 911 call from that same residence triggered Blake’s encounter with police, which sparked looting and rioting in Kenosha, a city located on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin, that spread to other cities across the county.
Police also confirmed that Blake had a knife in his possession; video taken during the incident supports that claim. Blake resisted arrest and ignored officers’ commands before he was shot in the back. He remains in stable condition at a Milwaukee hospital.
Political leaders, celebrities, and athletes have rallied to Blake’s defense. In a video message taped at his home, Joe Biden said Blake’s shooting was another example of “systemic racism” and fretted about what Blake’s children watched unfold. “Our hearts are with his family, especially with his children,” Biden told the camera. “It’s horrible what they saw.” (Blake, 29, has six children under the age of 8.)
Biden’s running mate spoke with Blake’s family this week. Sen. Kamala Harris said she did not think the shooting was justified. “The man was going to his car, he didn’t appear to be armed,” Harris, a former prosecutor, said in an MSNBC interview Friday. “And if he was not armed, the use of force that was seven bullets coming out of a gun at close range in the back of the man? I don’t see how anybody could reason that that was justifiable.”
LeBron James is outraged at the Blake incident; he has referred to the serial sexual abuser as a “gentleman” and encouraged his fellow NBA players to boycott the playoffs in Blake’s honor. On Friday, NBA officials negotiated a resumption of the playoffs in exchange for various promises to promote social justice causes. NFL quarterback Drew Brees taped Blake’s name on his helmet.
Blake’s father and other family members spoke at Friday’s March on Washington in honor of the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Blake’s sister told the crowd that it was time to stand up to the “genocide” of black men in America and urged black women to be their “brother’s keeper.”
No comment from her brother’s victim.