No Charges in Jacob Blake’s Shooting on Same Day Rittenhouse Pleads Not Guilty
“No Kenosha law enforcement officer in this case will be charged with any criminal offense.”
After a fiery summer in an unprecedented movement for civil rights, those words will be remembered as a deep cut.
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced Tuesday that the officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back will not face charges. On the same day, Kyle Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty to all charges connected to his killing of two men during a protest over Blake’s death at police hands. The tone and timing of both headlines just hours apart create an air of more than just coincidence.
Blake, 29, was at the home of his former girlfriend in August when police were called for a domestic dispute. It took all of three minutes after they arrived to resort to shooting Blake in the back seven times at close range as he leaned into a vehicle where his child was seated. Graveley said in his Tuesday announcement that it “is absolutely incontrovertible” that Blake was armed with a knife at the time — a knife was found on the floorboard of the vehicle but civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Blake’s family questioned whether he was actually armed when he was shot.
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Blake survived the shooting but was left paralyzed from the waste down.
Black Lives Matter protests broke out in Kenosha for several nights after the shooting, calling for justice in Blake’s case. On the third night, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse responded to a call posted by the Kenosha Guard militia group:
“ANY PATRIOTS WILLING TO TAKE UP ARMS AND DEFEND OUR CITY TONIGHT FROM THE EVIL THUGS?”
Rittenhouse traveled from Illinois to Wisconsin armed with an AR-15-style rifle, which he was not legally permitted to possess, to answer that call.
In the process of the night, Rittenhouse ended up shooting three people, killing two. When police approached the scene immediately afterward, Rittenhouse is seen walking by with his firearm — the police never attempted to stop him. He drove home that night but was later arrested and charged in the murders. There’s been a divided narrative on exactly what led to Rittenhouse firing on the victims, with many on the right claiming he acted in self-defense and propping him up as a hero. However, it was established that he had shot and killed one man and was then chased by a small group of people. In that chase, he fell to the ground and then shot at two more people, killing a second man and injuring another.
Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty Tuesday.
In anticipation of the DA announcement, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers deployed the National Guard to Kenosha and buildings downtown were boarded up. Some fear that protests may again turn violent in the wake of Tuesday’s news. Evers also expressed disappointment in the DA’s decision in a statement:
“Jacob Blake’s life has forever been changed and his kids witnessed violence no kid should ever see, experienced trauma no kid should ever endure, all while the world watched. And yet, when presented the opportunity to rise to this moment and this movement and take action to provide meaningful, commonsense reform to enhance accountability and promote transparency in policing in our state, elected officials took no action.”
There have been calls to protest by activists and Blake’s family, but with the urging to remain peaceful and refrain from destroying property.
The collision of news in Blake’s case comes at a tumultuous time nationally, as right-wing groups, including some that were present during Kenosha protests, swell in Washington D.C. ahead of Wednesday’s electoral vote count in Congress.