National and state leaders, organizations react to Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake

Jacob Blake (right photo credit CBS national and Blake family)

KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Local, state and national leaders are responding to a Kenosha police shooting that left a man in critical condition Sunday evening, Aug. 23. 

Jacob Blake was shot near 28th Avenue and 40th Street Sunday, after officers were called for a "domestic incident." Graphic video of the shooting circulated social media showing Blake walking away from police and getting into an SUV. One officer is seen holding Blake's shirt, and then seven gunshots can be heard.

Read entire statements from leaders and organizations below. 

Wisconsin District Attorneys Association (WDAA) statement: 

"The Wisconsin District Attorneys’ Association offers its thoughts and prayers to all those involved in the Kenosha officer involved shooting, which occurred on August 23, 2020.  We especially pray for the recovery of Jacob Blake.  

An investigation by the Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) is underway into the circumstances of the shooting.  DCI is acting as an outside agency to investigate the shooting, and the investigators employed by DCI are among the very best in determining and documenting the facts of such an incident.  A prosecutor then will need to make a decision on how to proceed in the light of that investigation. 

We are a society of laws, and the law will be followed, and justice will be done.  If we want justice to be reached, the investigation must be thorough and complete.  Our system of laws supports the right of each citizen to make their voices heard, but that same system of laws does not support doing so by harming people or property.  Destruction of public and private property is not consistent with a society that seeks justice.  We implore all citizens to promote peace in this difficult time."

Former Vice President Joe Biden statement: 

"Yesterday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back as police attempted to restrain him from getting into his car. His children watched from inside the car and bystanders watched in disbelief. And this morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force. This calls for an immediate, full and transparent investigation and the officers must be held accountable."

"These shots pierce the soul of our nation. Jill and I pray for Jacob’s recovery and for his children."

"Equal justice has not been real for Black Americans and so many others. We are at an inflection point. We must dismantle systemic racism. It is the urgent task before us. We must fight to honor the ideals laid in the original American promise, which we are yet to attain: That all men and women are created equal, but more importantly that they must be treated equally."

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers statement: 

"Tonight, Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kathy and I join his family, friends, and neighbors in hoping earnestly that he will not succumb to his injuries. While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.

We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country—lives like those of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, Tony Robinson, Dontre Hamilton, Ernest Lacy, and Sylville Smith. And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites.

I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and our country for far too long.”

Kenosha Police Association statement:

"Anytime deadly force is used, our hearts go out to those affected by it. We assure you an independent investigation is being conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation.

Until that investigation is completed, we ask that you withhold prejudgment about the incident and please the let process take place. Governor Evers’ statement on the incident was wholly irresponsible and not reflective of the hardworking members of the law enforcement community, not to mention the citizens of the City of Kenosha.

As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident. We ask that you withhold from passing judgement until all the facts are known and released.

We, along with the citizens of the great City of Kenosha, ask for peace and to let the process play out fairly and impartially. "

Wisconsin Attorney Josh Kaul statement: 

"The Wisconsin Department of Justice is vigorously and thoroughly investigating yesterday’s officer-involved shooting in Kenosha. As with all investigations we conduct, we will unwaveringly pursue justice in this case.

“I hope for a full recovery for the man fighting for his life. He and his family are in my thoughts, as is the entire Kenosha community.

“In most cases, including this case, Wisconsin state law grants primary prosecutorial authority to the district attorney, who decides whether to file charges. We will work closely with the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office throughout this case.”

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin:

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson statement:  

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos statement: 

“Like many in Wisconsin, I watched the events in Kenosha unfold last night and was disturbed by the video of the officer-involved shooting. Jacob Blake and his family are in my prayers and I hope for his recovery.

“It’s essential that we get a complete picture of what happened. I would ask that the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation meet its goal of completing a thorough investigation in 30 days. The Kenosha community deserves to know the totality of the circumstances leading up to the shooting. Before passing judgement, we have to know if the shocking 20-second video clip shared with the media tells the whole story.

“I was also deeply disturbed about what occurred in Kenosha: the demonstrators’ complete disregard to public safety, damage to personal property, and the attack on police. Moving forward, I encourage those who would like to express their frustration and anger to do so peacefully.

“This is not a time for political posturing or to suggest defunding law enforcement. When a community is hurting, the most important thing that we can do is to listen. That is why today, I am announcing a Speaker’s task force focusing on on racial disparities, educational opportunities, public safety, and police policies and standards. We must find a path forward as a society that brings everyone together.”

Democratic National Convention Chair Tom Perez statement: 

“A bullet in the back. A knee on the neck. When will it end? Yet again, our nation is hurting. Yet again, Black communities are hurting. Our hearts go out to Jacob Blake and his family as we pray for his recovery. Sadly, we know he is not the first to be viciously gunned down by law enforcement. He is one of countless Black Americans who have suffered at the hands of bigotry with a badge. When I was assistant attorney general for civil rights during the first term of the Obama-Biden administration, we worked tirelessly to change the culture of police departments from Seattle to New Orleans to Puerto Rico. This administration has refused to continue that work and has been downright hostile to progress. We need meaningful action and accountability to end police brutality and racial injustice – for Jacob Blake, for George Floyd, for Breonna Taylor, and for so many others. So long as Black men and women cannot breathe, we cannot rest.”

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley statement:

“I join the family and friends of Jacob Blake in praying that he will survive the critical injuries suffered last night as he was shot in the back multiple times by Kenosha police. As a father, it breaks my heart to know that Blake's children went to sleep last night not knowing if their father would make it through the night. It cuts even deeper to know that he is not the first person of color to have their lives endangered at the hands of law enforcement in this state or nation.

“Make no mistake, Blake’s wounds are the result of systemic racism, the policies and practices that entangle our institutions and produce racially disparate outcomes, regardless of the intentions of the people who work within them. It’s the reason why Wisconsin is ranked as the worst place to raise a black child, why child poverty in the Black community is markedly higher compared to their white counterparts, and why Milwaukee County ranks as 71st healthiest county out of 72 counties in the state.

“After the murder of George Floyd, Milwaukee County residents took to the streets to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives. Months after Floyd’s death, the people continue to make their voices heard and call for a fundamental change in the way we handle police-community relations, the way we treat communities color, and the way we include each and every person in our society to have their voices heard in our democracy.

“At Milwaukee County, we’ve started this process by committing to achieve racial equity and developing the first strategic plan in nearly twenty years through a racial equity lens. But, as a father of young Black children I understand the fierce urgency in which communities of color are demanding change. It’s time to listen to the voice of the people and take action to prevent the unnecessary loss of Black lives at the hands of law enforcement. The time for change is always now. I stand with my brothers and sisters who are standing up for Black lives and making their voices heard.

“As we continue to pray for the recovery of Jacob Blake, and learn more details of last night’s events in Kenosha, I urge leaders at both the local and state level to work together and follow the lead of Milwaukee County in declaring racism as a public health crisis and commit to undoing generations of racist policies and practices that continue to cut short the lives of too many residents of color.”

Congresswoman Gwen Moore statement: 

“What happened yesterday to Jacob Blake is an all too frequent experience for Black people in America.

Jacob was shot in the back multiple times in front of his children. Trauma was inflicted on not only Jacob, but on his innocent children. My heart aches for him and his family. I am praying that he makes a full recovery from his serious injuries.

We must rid our communities and our systems of the racism that results in biased policing practices, creating devastating tragedies for Black men and women. We all must treat racism as the public health emergency that it is and take appropriate action to keep other families and communities from being traumatized by these reckless shootings.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice must conduct a thorough investigation as part of the process of ensuring that police officers are held accountable when excessive, violent force is used.

I am tired of condemning these shootings which is why I joined my colleagues in the House in passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120) to begin making the steps necessary to build greater transparency, accountability and fairness in policing. I am calling for action from the Senate Majority Leader to bring this bill to the Senate floor. I am also calling on the majority in the Wisconsin State Legislature to take up the police reform measures laid out by our Governor and Lieutenant Governor earlier this year.

The longer these bills languish the longer justice is delayed and denied. Our communities are calling for change right now, and they cannot and should not wait any longer for meaningful action.’’

Chris Ott, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, statement: 

“Let’s not mince words: The police shooting that occurred in Kenosha Sunday evening looks like attempted murder. News outlets have reported that Mr. Blake, the man shot seven times in the back by Kenosha PD, was attempting to break up a fight between two women before he was shot. He did not appear to be armed and was walking away from police when an officer repeatedly shot him with his back turned and in front of his children. While his family endures this deep and lasting trauma, Mr. Blake now fights for his life at a local hospital, put there by the very people sworn to protect and serve the community.

“These repeated acts of violence against Black people by police have created a clear message: the police do not value the lives of the people in the Black and brown communities they serve in the same way that they do their own. For the last three months, people in Wisconsin and across the country have taken to the streets to protest the routine harassment and abuse that people of color experience at the hands of law enforcement. This cruel, avoidable, and gruesome shooting once again demonstrates why the task of transforming American policing is so urgent. Reform is not enough.”

Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson statement:

"This morning most of us woke up to news reports documenting unrest that occurred overnight in Kenosha after police shot Jacob Blake, who was unarmed, several times in the back yesterday evening. I hope Jacob makes a full and speedy recovery. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family during this difficult time, and in particular his children, who witnessed this heinous event.

This officer-involved shooting is yet another example of the deep-seated inequities that exist for Black residents across our city, state and country. For months now people have been taking to the streets in protest of these very actions, and while some progress has been made it is very clear we still have a long way to go.

While much of the attention around protests and reform has been focused on larger cities like Milwaukee, Chicago and others, this serves as a sobering reminder that police reform must occur in smaller communities as well.

We will not have achieved true justice until ALL people of color in communities big and small can feel safe and respected when in the presence of those who are sworn to serve and protect."

Milwaukee Brewers statement: 

Milwaukee Bucks statement: 

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