One thousand and twenty-two. As of Sept. 2, that is the number of people that have been shot and killed by police this year alone. These are shootings that could have been avoided if the justice system saw everyone as equal and was trained to do better, to protect the community. Instead, their badges are seen as a symbol of power and fear for the people among them.
The killing of George Floyd was a tragic incident that sparked outrage not only in the U.S but all over the world. Everyone came together to peacefully protest the police and the justice system for a change that was long overdue. After weeks of fighting for change and making strong arguments to defund the police, people were slowly starting to see communities and authorities make these social and political changes. For example, in the city of Oakland, the school board voted to get rid of school police, and Oakland and other Bay Area cities cut the budgets for their police. This led people to believe that this unjust treatment of people of color, especially Blacks, was finally beginning to cease.
This would all change on the Sunday afternoon of the 23rd of August. About 5 p.m that afternoon, seven year Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey made the decision to fire seven bullets at the back of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, who was reaching into the driver side of the car, with four of those bullets hitting him.
For what logical reason would an armed police officer think that shooting at a man would be the best way to assess the situation? A situation which began with Blake trying to break up a domestic dispute. A situation where firing a gun should have been the last viable option, but instead it left a young man, brother, son and father shot and wounded in front of his three young children.
This anger and frustration was heard around the world as sports games were cancelled as athletes refused to play in response to this shooting. The WNBA team the Washington Mystics wore white shirts with gunshot wounds on their back to spread awareness.
This shooting resulted in Blake being left paralyzed from the waist down. Although he has received the best medical care and attention, and according to CBS News, doctors fear that his paralysis may be permanent.
Similar to after George Floyd was suffocated to death by an on duty cop, communities began gathering and coming together to protest and demand justice. Only two days after this horrific event, police violence would strike again.
About midnight on the Tuesday after the shooting, a peaceful protest in the same city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, resulted in more tragedy when armed 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot his firearm at protesters, killing two and leaving one injured.
Putting it into perspective helps us realize how truly sick the system is. An armed 17 year old, who was clearly a threat to those around him, managed to walk out alive to tell his side of the story. In 2012, Treyvon Martin, who was shot and killed while walking home for simply “looking” like a danger to society, was also 17 at the time of his death..
Blake’s shooting sparked more anger among communities, and peaceful protests, including in the cities of Oakland and Sacramento, turned violent, resulting in people being arrested after much of the violence was targeted at police present at the protests. Those who have a platform and know to use it wisely have shown their anger and try to bring awareness to these tragedies.
The Daily Show host and comedian Trevor Noah did a segment covering the shooting of Blake and the events that followed. He said, “The gun doesn’t matter as much as who is holding the gun, because for some people black skin is the most threatening weapon of all.”
The point he makes is the common horrible pattern we see in our society where unarmed Black men and women are ruthlessly killed with no remorse, and white, armed men who shoot up a church or a movie theater are able to walk out alive.
Protests around the world continue to be arranged as people demand their voices be heard. Local protests have been organized by Bay Area groups such as East Bay Resistance and Bay Area Grassroots.
These patterns of violence against Black Americans are sick and traumatizing. How many more of these events need to happen in order for law enforcement and society as a whole to realize the daily fear these people live in simply for the color of their skin? What will it take for consequences to be put into action?
When will the cops who shoot Blake and those that killed Breonna Taylor be held accountable? It’s time to arrest the cops who shot Blake and killed Breonna Taylor.
Ana Delgadillo is a staff writer for The Express. Follow her at @aaanakd.