Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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US father ‘won’t play politics’ over son’s shooting

Jacob Blake's father speaks to a crowd gathered at Civic Center Park, in Kenosha, WisconsinImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Jacob Blake’s father said his son was “holding on for dear life” after he was shot by a police officer

The father of a black man shot by police has refused to “play politics” with his son’s life when Donald Trump visits the city of Kenosha on Tuesday.

Jacob Blake’s shooting sparked a fresh wave of anti-racism protests in the US, prompting calls for President Trump to acknowledge him and his family.

The president will meet police officers on the visit, but not the Blake family.

The visit comes with “law and order” becoming highly politicised ahead of the 3 November presidential election.

In an interview with CNN, Mr Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr, said his son’s life was more important than a meeting with President Trump.

“I’m not getting into politics. It’s all about my son, man. It has nothing to do with a photo op,” he said.

Local officials have urged Mr Trump to not visit Kenosha, in the state of Wisconsin, fearing his presence in the city may reignite protests that have calmed down in recent days.

But Mr Trump has rejected their pleas, accusing Democratic mayors and governors of failing to get a grip on the violence as he bids to make law and order a key issue in his bid to a win a second term in the White House.

Ahead of the Kenosha trip, the president said he would not meet Mr Blake’s family because they wanted lawyers to be present.

What did Blake’s father say?

“This is not politics. This is about the life of my son,” Mr Blake Sr said, adding that his son was still paralysed from the waist down, “holding on for dear life”.

Jacob Blake, 29, was shot several times in the back by a police officer during an arrest, as Mr Blake tried to get into a car where his three children were seated.

“We are dealing with an individual that a couple of weeks ago was running around with the boys and talking to me on the phone and laughing to an individual that cannot move his leg,” Mr Blake Sr said.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionJacob Blake’s sister: ‘I have been watching police murder people that look like me for years’

The officer involved in the shooting on 23 August, named as Rusten Sheskey, has been placed on administrative leave while an investigation takes place.

Mr Blake Sr said that since his son’s shooting he had “received some threats”.

Asked how his family was coping, Mr Blake Sr said he had had to take his other son, 20, to hospital because he was depressed.

The father gave no further details but added: “It’s sad to me how people don’t understand the kind of pressure this family is under.”

Why is Trump’s Kenosha visit controversial?

The governor of the state, Democrat Tony Evers, has urged Mr Trump to reconsider his trip, warning his presence will “hinder our healing” and arguing that the citizens of the town are already traumatised.

The White House said the president was expected to meet with law enforcement and tour “property affected by recent riots”.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionTwo people were killed and one injured on the third night of unrest

Mr Trump has also defended a teenage supporter accused of fatally shooting two men amid demonstrations over Mr Blake’s shooting in Kenosha last week.

He suggested that Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was acting in self-defence, telling reporters: “I guess he was in very big trouble, he probably would have been killed.”

What’s going on in Portland?

Portland, Oregon, has also become a major flashpoint for demonstrations since a wave of Black Lives Matter protests were touched off by the killing of another African American – George Floyd – in May.

Mr Floyd died in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for a prolonged period during an arrest.

In July, the Trump administration deployed federal forces to Portland, ostensibly to protect a federal courthouse and other federal property. But they were later withdrawn amid allegations their heavy-handed tactics only heightened the unrest.

On Saturday night, right-wing activist Aaron “Jay” Danielson, 39, was shot dead in the city after he was seen going to protect a caravan of Trump supporters from counter protesters.

Asked to condemn supporters who had fired paint pellets during a confrontation with anti-racism demonstrators on the same night, Mr Trump described the protest as “peaceful” and said paint was “a defensive mechanism, paint is not bullets”.

He told a reporter: “Your supporters, and they are your supporters indeed, shot a young gentleman who – and killed him, not with paint but with a bullet. And I think it’s disgraceful.”

Media reports say a man who calls himself an anti-fascist is being investigated over the death of Mr Danielson.

Meanwhile, protests erupted in Los Angeles, California, on Monday night after an incident in which police shot dead a black man in a southern neighbourhood of the city.

Police say the man in his 30s fled after officers spotted him riding a bicycle in violation of vehicle codes. According to the police, the man was shot at the end of a pursuit, after he allegedly struck an officer and dropped a handgun in a bundle he was carrying.

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