Jan 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Police officer who shot Jacob Blake won’t face charges

Photo of protesters marching against Jacob Blake's death by police
Demonstrators march during a protest in New York City over the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wis., Aug. 24, 2020. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty

Police officers involved in the shooting of Jacob Blake will not face criminal charges, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Gravely announced Tuesday.

The big picture: Kenosha was the center of protests, some violent, after officer Rusten Sheskey shot and wounded Blake, a Black man, on Aug. 23. The U.S. saw mass protests over police brutality and racism throughout the summer, set off by George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Russell Contreras: The lack of charges in the Blake shooting highlights the protections enjoyed by police, which critics say allows officers to abuse and terrorize communities of color. The Black Lives Matter movement seeks to abolish those protections and hold police more accountable for excessive force, but police unions are resisting changes.

Flashback: Cellphone footage from the August incident shows Sheskey, a white law enforcement officer, shooting Blake seven times in the back as Blake entered a vehicle with his children in the back. The shooting left Blake paralyzed.

  • The unrest that followed led to more than 250 arrests, including 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, an armed counterprotester who on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to charges related to the fatal shootings of two people, AP reports.

What they're saying: "This isn't the news we hoped for, but our work is not done and hope is not lost," Ben Crump, attorney for the Blake family, tweeted Tuesday. "We must broaden the fight for justice on behalf of Jacob Blake and the countless other Black victims of racial injustice and police brutality."

What to watch: Kenosha is bracing for another wave of demonstrations following Gravely's announcement, with business owners boarding up their places of work as concrete barriers and metal fences are set up around the Kenosha County Courthouse, per AP.

  • Gov. Tony Evers activated 500 National Guard troops to help respond to possible protests.
  • The Common Council unanimously voted to give the mayor of Kenosha power to impose curfews, among others, on Monday night.
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