Jacob Blake, a 29-year old Black man, was shot by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday, August 23, 2020, after officers from the Kenosha Police Department responded to a domestic incident.
Bystanders recorded footage of the incident which showed Blake walking away from the police officers and towards a vehicle, where his three young children were waiting for him. As Blake opened the door to the driver’s side of the SUV, Rusten Sheskey, a police officer, grabbed Blake’s shirt and then shot Blake seven times in the back with his service weapon. CBS News reported that none of the other police officers who were at the scene shot their service weapons and that no body camera footage was recorded, because the department does not have any. The New York Times reported that Sheskey and some of the other officers that were involved were placed on administrative leave. While the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation are leading the investigation into the shooting, the FBI have also opened up a federal civil rights investigation into Blake’s shooting. While Blake survived the shooting, the attorney hired by Blake’s family confirmed that Blake suffered extensive injuries to his internal organs and is currently paralyzed from the waist down due to injuries to his spinal cord and vertebrae.
As the bystander footage went viral and details pertaining to Blake’s shooting emerged, protestors began to gather in Kenosha. Although Blake’s family pleaded for peaceful protesting, violence ensued as armed militia-style groups converged on the protests. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year old from Antioch, Illinois, traveled to the protests days after the shooting, where he subsequently shot three people with his assault rifle, killing two, Joseph Rosenbaum (age 36) and Anthony Huber (age 26), and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz (age 26). Video footage from bystanders recorded Rittenhouse running before shooting Rosenbaum, who had tried to grab Rittenhouse’s gun. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that after the shooting, Rittenhouse called someone to tell them that he had shot somebody. As Rittenhouse tried to run from the crowd of protestors chasing him, he shot Huber and Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse, was then allowed to leave the protests and was later arrested at his mother’s home in Antioch, Illinois. He has since been charged with two counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide, two counts of recklessly endangering safety, and one count of possession of a dangerous weapon. When asked why Rittenhouse was allowed to leave the scene of the shootings, Kenosha Chief of Police, Miskinis stated that “there was nothing to suggest that this individual was involved in any criminal behavior.” Since the shooting, the ACLU has called for the resignation of both Chief of Police Daniel Miskinis and Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, for both “fraternizing with white supremacist counter-protesters” and “allowing the shooter to leave as people yelled that he was the shooter.”
Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom.
The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.
- Writing: Explain how the differences in police response to the incidents involving Jacob Blake and Kyle Rittenhouse illustrate structural racism within the criminal justice system.
- Debate: Kyle Rittenhouse should be extradited and charged as an adult for the crimes he committed. (Agree or Disagree).
- Poll: The top cops in Kenosha, the Chief of Police and the County Sheriff, should resign for their responses to both the Jacob Blake shooting and the deadly protests. (Agree or Disagree).
- Short Answer: Why did the FBI open a civil rights investigation into the shooting of Jacob Blake?
Cover Image: Photo of “39th Ave and Washington Kenosha Nat Guard Troops,” by Lightburst, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 International.