KENOSHA, Wis. – With chants of “One person, one vote!" and "No justice, no peace!” a crowd of about 1,000 demonstrators gathered outside a Wisconsin courthouse Saturday to denounce police violence and share messages of change, a week after an officer shot Jacob Blake in the back and left the 29-year-old Black man paralyzed.
The diverse group of protesters also chanted “Seven bullets, seven days!” — a reference to the number of times Blake was shot last Sunday — as they marched toward the courthouse in Kenosha. There, Blake's father, Jacob Blake Sr., gave an impassioned call for changing a system he described as fostering police brutality and racial inequities.
“There were seven bullets put in my son’s back. ... Hell yeah, I’m mad," said Blake Sr. He said he wants to ask the police “what gave them the right to attempted murder on my child? What gave them the right to think that my son was an animal? What gave them the right to take something that was not theirs? I’m tired of this.”
Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey and two other officers were responding to a domestic dispute call last Sunday when Sheskey shot Blake in the back. Blake Sr. told reporters on Saturday that his son is heavily sedated, but he has regained consciousness.
“He’s in a lot of pain,” he said. “I just wish I could pick my baby up and make it all right.” He called for Sheskey to be charged and for the other two officers at the scene to be fired.
Several of Saturday's speakers encouraged the crowd to vote for change in November, and to push for changing legislation in Wisconsin that would lead to police reform.
“Justice is a bare minimum,” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said. “Justice should be guaranteed to everybody in this country.”
Blake Sr. asked those at the rally to raise their fists with him. “We are not going to stop going in the right direction. We’re going to the top ... we’re gonna make legislation happen because that’s the only thing that they recognize,” he said.