The narrative jelled almost instantly on both sides of the political divide. The botched arrest of Jacob Blake was an immediate Rorschach test, the uglier version of the viral “what color is the dress” challenge.
To progressives, the circumstances of the interaction were bothersome details clouding the true issue: shooting a black man in the back seven times is never okay. To conservatives, the fact that Blake was resisting arrest by scuffling with police, defying an order to freeze, moving toward his car in a determined manner (which he could use to flee, or from which he could produce a weapon), and bending down to reach into the car create a gray area around use of force.
The Kenosha Police Department has been slow to release information, but the picture is coming into slightly better focus as to what happened, when, and why.
First, let’s rewind two weeks, to August 8, 2020. Around 5:00 a.m., Kenosha police received a call about a vehicle break-in. Two males in hoodies were seen leaving the scene on foot. A patrol car was sent to investigate. When one of the suspects was approached, he fled. A tazer was deployed but failed to stop the suspect, who then pulled a gun and fired. The officer and suspect exchanged eight total shots.
The officer was hit in the abdomen, the suspect fled. Three days later, on August 11, the suspect, Jonathan Massey, was apprehended 110 miles away in Gary, IN, according to a Dept. of Justice press release. He was treated for a gunshot wound, also to the abdomen, and taken to a local jail to await extradition back to Wisconsin, where he will face intentional homicide charges.
Kenosha is a medium-sized city, with a population of just over 100,000. By Wisconsin standards, it isn’t very safe–85% of communities in the state are safer, according to Neighborhood Scout, but it’s just below the national median for violent crime. Cop shootings are rare. A mere two weeks prior to the Blake shooting, the force had been searching for an armed suspect who shot one of their own.
Consider that Minneapolis, ground zero for the George Floyd incident and subsequent calls for defunding police, is in neighboring Minnesota.
In the recently shared video below, we see a fuller picture of what happened. Blake had escaped the clutches of the police. He wasn’t simply “walking to his car” as some online have claimed. According to local sources, the police yelled, “Drop the knife, drop the knife!” before shots were fired.
According to Breitbart, officers had already attempted to subdue Blake with a tazer.
According to reports, it turns out the officers were arresting Blake for an outstanding warrant. The warrant is for a felony sexual assault on a minor, likely a 15 year-old, as the court document shows “older than 14, younger than 16, the age of consent.” From the AP yesterday:
Online court records indicate Kenosha County prosecutors charged Blake on July 6 with third-degree sexual assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct in connection with domestic abuse. An arrest warrant was issued for Blake the following day.
The records contain no further details and do not list an attorney for Blake.
Before moving to Kenosha, Blake, 29, resided in Racine, WI. While there, he had several run-ins with law enforcement, as reported by the Racine County Eye.
Jacob Blake, 24, of Racine, was charged Monday in Racine County Circuit Court with one felony count of resisting arrest causing a soft tissue injury to a police officer and one misdemeanor count each of carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a firearm while intoxicated, endangering safety-use of a dangerous weapon, and disorderly conduct. If convicted, he will face up to 8-1/2 years in prison and/or up to $50,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint, Blake and two women were at the Brass Monkey tavern, 1436 Junction Avenue, Saturday when Blake got into an argument with another patron and pulled a black handgun. Blake pointed the gun at the other man, and the magazine fell to the floor. The bartender told Blake to leave, and he did but then pointed the gun through the window at patrons inside the bar before walking south on Junction Avenue.
Police say they encountered a woman walking on Junction who was in the bar with Blake, but she said she didn’t know what happened and that her friends left without her in a silver SUV. A few moments later, officers were advised that a silver SUV was traveling north on Junction with a male subject driving who matched the description of Blake, and they initiated a traffic stop in the 1200 block of Racine Avenue.
Believing the driver was armed, police conducted a high risk traffic stop, the complaint reads, and ordered Blake to put his hands out the window of the vehicle. Instead, Blake exited the SUV and started walking toward officers and ignored commands to get down on the ground. Officers forced Blake to the ground and ordered him to put his hands behind his back. When Blake refused to comply, K9 Dozer was deployed to force the defendant into compliance.
Blake has been presented by mass media as a doting father of six children, and a loving son who moved to Kenosha because it was safer there, a similar to the narrative that grew up around George Floyd and his sojourn from Houston to Minneapolis. Much like Floyd, we are discovering that the man behind the story is more complicated than major news outlets care to report.
The stories that sprang up about what happened before the beginning of the first Blake video–that he was trying to break up a fight, that he was only trying to check on his children in his vehicle–were parroted in the media. The Kenosha Police Department has been surprisingly quiet about the shooting. They tweeted the following two days ago, and all subsequent tweets involve newly established curfews:
No mention of the July 6 arrest warrant for Blake for third-degree sexual assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct in connection with domestic abuse–just a “domestic incident.”
This morning, Blake’s father, also named Jacob Blake, confirmed that his son is paralyzed from the waist down. It is not yet known whether the paralysis is temporary or permanent. Various GoFundMe accounts have been opened for Blake. At the time of writing, most are near $0 of their various goals, but an account to fund the protests there has raised $1,544 of its $2,000 goal.
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