In the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting by Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officers, the media reported what happened in a very specific way.
The officers, they said, showed up after a call involving a domestic disturbance, a verbal altercation between two women that Blake was supposedly attempting to break up. Police immediately focused on Blake and used a stun gun on him. He tried to get to his car and opened the passenger door despite being warned not to by police. He was then shot in the back.
Blake, therefore, was a man who police had no reason to focus on. He’d done nothing wrong — and he was still left paralyzed.
In situations like this, you don’t call for the facts to come out. You can’t, because calling for the facts makes you an apologist for white supremacy. It won’t matter either way because — as CNN put it in its chyron regarding the current situation in Kenosha — “Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Protests” are going to occur anyway:
You cannot make this up… A CNN reporter is standing in front of a building engulfed in flames and CNN’s chyron reads:
“FIERY BUT MOSTLY PEACEFUL PROTESTS AFTER POLICE SHOOTING” pic.twitter.com/4OHvKnh63u
— Kelb Hull (@CalebJHull) August 27, 2020
Several days have passed since Blake’s shooting, and in addition to learning how quickly “mostly peaceful” protests can engulf various cities, we’ve also learned quite a bit about Blake.
According to records on the Wisconsin Court Case Access website, Blake was wanted in connection with three charges filed last month in relation to an alleged sexual assault.
“According to the criminal complaint, a woman who lived on the 2800 block of 40th Street called police in May and reported her former boyfriend Blake had entered her home and taken her car keys and vehicle. She told the officer Blake had also touched her sexually without consent,” the Kenosha News reported Thursday.
A warrant had been issued for his arrest on charges of third-degree sexual assault, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. The first was a felony, the latter two were misdemeanors.
Jae Rice, a family friend, said this shouldn’t have any effect on how you feel about the Blake shooting.
“It’s always sort of like a, ‘Oh, let’s understand why this person got in this predicament,'” Rice said, according to Newsweek.
“When I heard that, I just got sick to my stomach, because I was just wondering, ‘What does any of that, what does any of that have to do with the video we just saw?'”
But what we all saw was a 20-second video that raised questions rather than giving answers. It was a Rorschach test. It wasn’t a video that clearly showed murder or manslaughter — unless, of course, you were preconditioned to believe there’s no situation in which police would be justified in shooting a man disobeying orders who was reaching into the front seat of his car.
That calculus is further complicated if Jacob Blake was wanted for three crimes — two misdemeanors and a felony, all committed during a domestic disturbance — and police were being called to a domestic disturbance where Blake was a subject.
Furthermore, police scanner audio showed officers had been appraised of the fact Blake was a) at the scene and b) had a warrant out for his arrest.
Here is the Jacob Blake police scanner audio. The police were informed that Blake was involved in an incident at a home where he wasn’t supposed to be, and that there was an open warrant for him. https://t.co/WiAv4CXKc2
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 26, 2020
I have published the raw police scanner audio of the 23 Aug. 2020 incident involving #JacobBlake, who was wanted on an outstanding warrant for a felony sex crime charge & more. A woman called 911 & asked for help because Blake showed up at her home. #BLM https://t.co/PzH6FPWONS
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 26, 2020
And the scanner audio indicates the story differed dramatically from what witnesses had originally told the media, Madison365 reported Monday.
“According to the audio obtained by Madison365, someone called police to report that Blake was at her home and wasn’t supposed to be, and that he had taken her keys and was refusing to give them back,” the outlet said. “A dispatcher relayed this message to patrol officers at about 5:11 pm Sunday.
“About 30 seconds later, she let patrol officers know that there was ‘an alert at this address for a 99 for this subject,’ apparently to indicate that a warrant had been issued for Blake’s arrest. Court records indicate a warrant was issued on three charges — two misdemeanors and one G-class felony — on July 7. Court records indicate no previous criminal charges in the state of Wisconsin.
“About a minute after the initial call, the dispatcher indicated that Blake was leaving the premises, and that the woman who had initially called had hung up.”
This, again, conflicted significantly with the original story that witnesses told the media.
Another claim that seemed to be erroneous was that Blake didn’t have a weapon in his car.
In fact, according to a news release by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Blake admitted there was a knife on the floorboards of the driver’s side of his car — the side he was reaching into. No other weapons were found in the vehicle.
UPDATE: Per Wisconsin’s Department of Justice, a taser was used and unsuccessful. Blake also admitting to having a knife that was discovered in the car. Nothing as to why the officer fired 7 times. #JacobBlakeshooting pic.twitter.com/NHpq969IEI
— Kevin Wells (@Wells15Kevin) August 26, 2020
Another untruth: His attorney said Blake had no prior criminal charges or convictions. In 2015, Blake faced several serious charges after he allegedly pulled a gun at a Racine, Wisconsin, bar and resisted arrest.
At the time, the Racine County Eye reported Blake was charged “with one felony count of resisting arrest causing a soft tissue injury to a police officer and one misdemeanor count each of carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a firearm while intoxicated, endangering safety-use of a dangerous weapon, and disorderly conduct.”
“According to the criminal complaint, Blake and two women were at the Brass Monkey tavern, 1436 Junction Avenue, Saturday when Blake got into an argument with another patron and pulled a black handgun. Blake pointed the gun at the other man, and the magazine fell to the floor. The bartender told Blake to leave, and he did but then pointed the gun through the window at patrons inside the bar before walking south on Junction Avenue.”
The report said police later executed a traffic stop on his vehicle “and ordered Blake to put his hands out the window of the vehicle. Instead, Blake exited the SUV and started walking toward officers and ignored commands to get down on the ground. Officers forced Blake to the ground and ordered him to put his hands behind his back. When Blake refused to comply, K9 Dozer was deployed to force the defendant into compliance.”
In an update after Blake’s shooting, the outlet reported that prosecutors dropped the charges “due to witness issues and age of the case.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean Jacob Blake warranted being shot. However, it also doesn’t mean the 20-second video we saw existed without context.
Blake had a weapon, had a warrant out for his arrest and had been charged with a crime previously. All of these things are apparently supposed to be irrelevant.
The facts, not raw emotion, should have dictated our response to the Jacob Blake case. It didn’t. And going forward, it won’t.
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