Two people were shot and killed and another was injured during the third night of unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the shooting of a black man by a police officer at the weekend.
Protesters have demonstrated in the small Midwestern city since Sunday, when video footage showed a police officer shot resident Jacob Blake Jr at least seven times. The Blake family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, said on Tuesday that the shooting paralysed Mr Blake and traumatised his three children, who saw it happen.
American cities have been unsettled by protests and at times rioting this summer following the killing of George Floyd in May by a police officer in another Midwestern state, Minnesota. Wisconsin’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and called in the National Guard.
A stand-off developed between police and protesters on Tuesday night at Kenosha’s county courthouse, which authorities had fenced off. Shortly before midnight, seven blocks away, police responded to a report of shots fired with multiple victims, according to the Kenosha Police Department.
Two people were killed, and a third was taken to the hospital with serious, but not life-threatening injuries, police said. They did not release the names of the victims.
The shooting investigation is ongoing, police said.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the Kenosha Police Department was working with the FBI. Mr Beth said that armed civilians “like a vigilante group” have patrolled Kenosha’s streets for the past few nights, but he did not know if the shooter belonged to one.
Mr Blake’s shooting on Sunday was the latest incident of black men and women being shot by police or neighbourhood vigilantes. The killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida eight years ago helped birth the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mr Blake’s family spoke to reporters yesterday.
“They shot my son seven times,” said his father, Jacob Blake senior “Seven times. Like he didn’t matter. But my son matters. He’s a human being, and matters.”
Mr Blake’s sister, Letetra Widman, who studies black history at university, referenced recent killings of black people by police officers, as well as that of Emmett Till, a Chicago teenager who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955.
“I’m not sad,” she said. “I am numb. I have been watching police murder people that look like me for years . . . I’m not sad, I don’t want your pity. I want change.”
The protests are taking place against the backdrop of the Republican National Convention, as Donald Trump tries to regain momentum against Democratic contender Joe Biden in the race for the White House.
The president has lashed out at the anti-racism protests over the summer and advocated cracking down on the demonstrations, making a return to “law and order” a cornerstone of his campaign.