On August 23, a Black man from Kenosha Wisconsin, Jacob Blake, was shot in the back seven times by the Kenosha police. Witnesses at the scene said Blake was trying to break up a physical altercation between two women when the police were called. In a video taken on a cellphone, Blake walks towards his car, where three of his children are sitting, reaches in, and is shot seven times in the back by an officer (later identified as Rusten Shesky.) Blake was taken to the hospital where he is currently conscious, but paralyzed from the waist down. A union representing the Kenosha police department claimed in a statement that Blake was holding a knife and had earlier been shot with two stun guns in an attempt to subdue him, but that had failed. However in the video we can see that Blake’s back is turned to the officers, he is not threatening them in a physical manner. After arriving at the hospital Blake, who was paralyzed from the waist down had handcuffs placed on him due to charges from July.
Two days later, after protests broke out over the shooting of Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse, a white seventeen year old traveled from his home of Antioch, Illinois to Kenosha Wisconsin to “guard a storefront that had been vandalized the night before.” Rittenhouse is a Blue Lives Matter advocate who has made white supremacist comments on his social media pages. He was carrying a semi automatic weapon, which he used to shoot three protestors, two of whom were killed. After killing two people and injuring another Rittenhouse walked down the street past several police cars without being arrested or injured. He wouldn’t be taken into custody until the next day when he turned himself into the Antioch police headquarters. Rittenhouse is facing multiple charges of first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. However because of a Wisconsin self defense law Kyle Rittenhouse may walk, charged only with possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. Jacob Blake may never walk again.
In a recent discussion with the Youth Advisory Council, members discussed why, in our country, an unarmed Black man can be shot seven times in the back by police, while an armed white teen can kill two protestors, shoot another, and walk past law enforcement without a scratch on his body. Youth brought up the lack of police accountability, the different language used in the media when reporting crimes committed by black and white Americans, the lack of individuality given to Black people, all which contribute to the continuing dehumanization of Black people.