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“Our Demand Is for Him to Be Fired”: Outrage in Kenosha as Cop Who Shot Jacob Blake Returns to Work

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Relatives and supporters of Jacob Blake staged a sit-in with arrests outside the Kenosha police headquarters in Wisconsin to protest the department’s decision to allow police officer Rusten Sheskey to return to work. Sheskey, who is white, fired seven shots at point-blank range into the back of Jacob Blake last August, leaving the 29-year-old African American father partially paralyzed and sparking massive protests. Sheskey had been on administrative leave but faced no charges for the shooting. “There’s been so many injustices carried on through this investigation,” says Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake, who has also filed a lawsuit against the officer. “Our demand is for him to be fired.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Relatives and supporters of Jacob Blake staged a sit-in outside the Kenosha police headquarters in Wisconsin Sunday to protest the department’s decision to allow police officer Rusten Sheskey to return to work.

Last August, Sheskey, who’s white, fired seven shots at point-blank range into the back of Jacob Blake as the 29-year-old African American father leaned into his car. Inside the car were three of Blake’s sons, aged 3, 5 and 8. Jacob Blake miraculously survived but was left partially paralyzed. The shooting of Blake sparked days of protests in Kenosha. Sheskey had been on administrative leave, but he recently started working a desk job for the department.

At least three protesters were arrested Sunday, including Jacob Blake’s uncle Justin Blake, for blocking the doors to the police station. Demonstrators were calling for officer Sheskey to be fired and for the release of more information into the department’s internal investigation that cleared the officer. This all comes five months after the district attorney in Kenosha announced no charges would be filed against Sheskey. In March, Jacob Blake filed a lawsuit against the officer, claiming his actions were, quote, “excessive and unnecessary.”

We’re joined now by Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake. He was in Kenosha but is now back in Chicago.

Jacob Blake, thanks so much for being with us. Talk about what happened yesterday. And also, how is Jacob? How is your son?

JACOB BLAKE SR.: We found out about, I’d say, 11 days ago that he went back to work, and we planned on the 12th day to stage a rally. And at that time, we all decided that we would have to go a step beyond a rally to get enough attention that there’s been so many injustices carried on through this investigation. And, Amy, thank you for having me again.

AMY GOODMAN: So, your brother, Jacob’s uncle, was arrested, Justin Blake?

JACOB BLAKE SR.: Right, Justin, I forget the reverend’s name, and there was a young lady. They were all arrested.

AMY GOODMAN: So, can you talk about how you learned this? Is it true that — well, let me go to a statement earlier this month. Kenosha’s police chief said in that statement, quote, “Officer Sheskey … acted within the law and was consistent with training. … [He] was found to have been acting within policy and will not be subjected to discipline. … Although this incident has been reviewed at multiple levels, I know that some will not be pleased with the outcome. However, given the facts, the only lawful and appropriate decision was made.” So, that’s what the Kenosha police said. Sheskey was returned to work in the midst of the Chauvin trial. How did you learn that he’s back? And what are your demands right now?

JACOB BLAKE SR.: We learned that he was back through — just like everybody else did. We didn’t know, and then we found out. Our law team found out. But our demand is for him to be fired. And we’re demanding an understanding of where his weapon was that was fired at my son. They mislocated — the weapon is gone. So we’re calling for the Department of Justice to come in as an outside entity to investigate what’s going on in Kenosha.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you spoken with anyone in the Biden administration? I mean, clearly, Merrick Garland, the new attorney general, is investigating a number of police departments now, reconsidering consent decrees, reimposing them, and particularly, for example, looking at the Minneapolis Police Department after the murder of George Floyd.

JACOB BLAKE SR.: Well, if you didn’t know, Amy, I was sick after President Biden’s inaugural. I was hospitalized for some eight weeks. And I did not get a chance to follow up, but we are definitely going to follow up with the Biden administration, and we will be speaking with them later on this week.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m very sorry to hear that you were sick. How is your son? How is Jacob right now? And where is he?

JACOB BLAKE SR.: As of yesterday, Amy, he’s in great spirits. We talk all the time. We text each other all the time. When I go see him — I went to see him after I got out of the hospital, on my birthday. And, you know, he’s a fighter. He’s a fighter. And he’s not going to give up. And he’s continuing to be lifted up. So he’s in much better spirits than he was, still paralyzed from the waist down.

AMY GOODMAN: And then, of course, there’s Kyle Rittenhouse. After the shooting of your son by the police officer, the Black Lives Matter protest, Kyle Rittenhouse murdered two people in the streets and was allowed —

JACOB BLAKE SR.: And maimed —

AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead.

JACOB BLAKE SR.: And maimed another and was allowed to walk home, go home. They gave him water and a high five. I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all.

AMY GOODMAN: And now news of officers — because of a leak, it’s known that officers are raising money for his legal support.

JACOB BLAKE SR.: Well, I mean, MyPillow guy, $2 million, and Ricky Schroder followed up the money. I don’t — I mean, is hatred the thing now? Is that — that’s the thumbs-up thing now, I guess. To hate my people because they look like I look? I’m so perplexed, Amy, I don’t — you know, it’s like there’s two, three — there’s three or four different Americas. There’s definitely two justice systems. But then there’s other — you know, the people that were arrested with my brother yesterday were white.

AMY GOODMAN: The latest news from The New York Times, a police lieutenant in Virginia fired this week after he contributed $25 to a legal defense fund and expressed praise for Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who killed two people during the protests in Kenosha. The lieutenant, William Kelly, a member of the Norfolk Police Department for nearly 19 years, was relieved of his duty last Tuesday by city officials.

I wanted to then ask you, very quickly, before we go, Jacob Blake, about what’s happening in your home state of North Carolina, protests erupting demanding justice for Andrew Brown Jr., the Black man shot dead by Elizabeth City police officers serving an arrest warrant Wednesday morning. Eyewitnesses described an unlawful, unjustified killing by multiple officers who opened fire as Brown tried to flee in a vehicle. This is Brown’s neighbor and longtime friend.

JEAN FEREBEE: And I’ve got my neighbor across the street killed, and my baby comes running in my room with fear in his face. Like, how do I keep him safe, if the people that are supposed to serve and protect doesn’t keep us safe, are the ones taking them out?

AMY GOODMAN: A family lawyer said Brown was unarmed, and demanded the release of police body-camera footage. And apparently, today, the family will be viewing body-camera footage after just enormous protests.

JACOB BLAKE SR.: Well, you know, our counterparts flee all the time, but they make it to jail. When a Black man seems to flee or not pay attention, it’s murder. It’s you’re dead. And I don’t understand that, either.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, your response to the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, Derek Chauvin convicted of murdering George Floyd?

JACOB BLAKE SR.: Well, had that young lady not been there with the camera the whole time, none of this — you understand, none of this would have happened. It would have been just, say, hearsay, she say, they say. But you saw what happened. The jury saw what happened and came to the correct conclusion. And that’s a step in the right direction, a small step. There’s so many steps that we have to take, because it’s been 68 murders since that court case started.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, ,Jacob Blake, I want to thank you so much for being with us. Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake Jr., shot seven times in Kenosha, Wisconsin, by a white police officer. All health to you and to your son.

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