The filmed shooting of a black man by police officers triggered riots in the Wisconsin city and drew national attention. Some people say the mainstream coverage fails to include the Kenosha resident’s criminal record for context.
Blake, 29, was shot multiple times in the back while trying to get into a car in front of witnesses, reportedly including his children. The police said the officers were responding to a domestic disturbance report when the confrontation happened. Blake was rushed to hospital and is expected to survive.
Video of the incident triggered a wave of public anger in Kenosha, which fueled a night of rioting. US mainstream media covered the shooting as the latest example of reckless police brutality targeting African Americans.
The reporting however seemed to avoid Blake’s apparent criminal record. Wisconsin Circuit Court lists a man with the same name, age and address as the subject of an active arrest warrant, with three charges relating to domestic abuse, including 3rd degree sexual assault.
A 2015 article in the local press describes an incident in a Kenosha bar, during which an intoxicated 24-year-old man by the name Jacob Blake drew a gun during a quarrel with another patron. When police later stopped Blake’s car, he resisted arrest and was injured by a police dog.
Neither piece of information justifies the shooting, contrary to what some commenters on Twitter have proclaimed. But those facts may be relevant in explaining what happened with Blake on Sunday night. Mainstream media articles have largely avoided mentioning those details, however.
There is a sentiment shared by many supporters of Black Lives Matter protests that bringing up a black person’s criminal record is a dirty right-wing trick, only carried out by apologists for police brutality.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) said in a statement that the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave while an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
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