Jacob Blake, the Black man whose shooting in the back by Wisconsin police in front of his children on Sunday sparked ongoing protests, found strong support Monday among Massachusetts lawmakers, who reignited calls for legislation to end systemic racism and curb excessive force.
“He should be home with his babies,” U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley said Monday, instead of “in the ICU fighting for his life.”
Blake, 29, was shot at point-blank range Sunday evening by at least one officer with the Kenosha Police Department, which said in a statement that officers responded to a domestic incident around 5 p.m.
Blake’s family said he is now stable condition, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Cellphone video captured by bystanders showed officers pointing their guns at Blake as he walked around an SUV; after he opened the driver’s side door, at least one officer, grabbing Blake’s shirt from behind, opened fire, with seven audible shots in the video.
“Mark my words, we’re going to fight for accountability just as hard as you’re fighting to survive & make it home to your family Jacob,” Pressley added on Twitter, posting a widely-shared photo of Blake, a father of six, with some of his children.
“Thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Rep. Jim McGovern said.
McGovern noted that two months ago, the House of Representatives approved the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was prompted after nationwide calls to address generations of systemic racism.
The bill expands the definition of excessive force, paving the way for victims to file claims against individual officers. The bill would also ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases nationwide, provide greater transparency on police misconduct and require officers to wear body cameras.
Republicans and the Trump administration favored a proposal in the GOP-controlled Senate from Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Similar to an executive order signed by President Donald Trump, Scott’s package makes federal grants available to police departments that reform and meet higher training standards. The Senate bill calls for data collection on the use of force; the Democratic bill calls for a federal registry of officers with a track record of misconduct.
“We must demand legislation and accountability,” McGovern added.
Rep. Katherine Clark also called for the enactment of the Justice in Policing Act, and said such “tragedies will continue” until further action is taken “against racism and police brutality.”
Multiple officers have been placed on administrative leave, and the police department and state officials are investigating the shooting. Police did not provide further details, but noted the man who was shot was transported to a Milwaukee hospital.
Gov. Tony Evers authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to back local law enforcement amid protests, the National Guard said in a statement.
Late Sunday night, Evers said that while not all details were known, “what we know for certain is that (Blake) is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.”