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August 26, 2020

Holding Peace & Deadly Force: The Tragedy of Jacob Blake.

Bang!

It is a clear evening in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A black man has arrived at a residence to help break up an altercation between two women. The details are foggy about why this man is there, but he is unarmed and nonviolent 

Bang!

The 29-year-old man moved to Kenosha from Evanston—a suburb of Chicago—a few years before this evening. He moved to have a better life for himself and his family. When living in Chicago, he regularly volunteered for a local recycling center. This center donated portions of their funds to veterans in the Chicago area. This young man is described by his uncle as being lively and comedic, noting that he loved people.  

Bang! 

Three, five, and eight. These are the ages of the children with this man, on this Sunday evening, in Kenosha. They are sitting in the SUV that this man shows up in, when the events of the evening unfold. They watch. They hear. They experience this trauma, firsthand 

Bang! 

This man—at the time of the incident—has an active arrest warrant. He also faced charges, a month earlier, for third degree sexual assault. I include these facts because I want to point out one important aspect of law here: none of that means an unarmed man should be shot by a police officer.  

Bang!

Deadly force:

“In Wisconsin, the definition of deadly force applied by the police is the use of any means or instrumentality intended to or likely to cause death. An officer may use deadly force when he/she believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to themselves or to others. Therefore, the justification for deadly force is the immediate threat of death or great bodily harm, but the application of deadly force is that action which is likely to cause death.” 

The above paragraph is what you will find in the Kenosha Policy and Procedures Manual for police officers. This statement brings to light the use of excessive force that was experienced by a man named Jacob Blake 

Bang! Bang! 

Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was shot in the back seven times by Kenosha police officers on Sunday, August 23rd, 2020. Blake was unarmed at the time, and had also been tased by these policemen. A video begins to circulate the internet showing the middle and end of the altercation between Blake and police, including the seven shots that were poured into this man’s back.  

It should not matter what this man’s criminal history was at the time of the shooting. There are pedophiles and murderers who are given a second chance or the opportunity to a longer life more than an unarmed black man on the street.  

It should not matter that this man was black—but it does.

Why does it? 

If we are being honest, how many times do we watch other minorities being shot wrongfully by the men and women who are hired to protect them?

The two officers involved in Blake’s shooting have since been placed on leave. The above-mentioned paragraph, from the Kenosha Police Policy and Procedures Manual, states the justifications for deadly force are that you or others are faced with great bodily harm. Jacob Blake was facing away from police, unarmed, while an officer had a firm grip on the back of his shirt.  

Then he proceeded to fire seven rounds into the Black man’s back.  

How quickly would Jacob Blake have been arrested if his finger was on the trigger?  

Would he be placed on leave and not taken into custody?  

No 

He probably would have been killed.  

I am trying to pinpoint the time in history when law became something that was interpreted and not something that was followed.  

I am trying to grasp the concept that true evil exists in this world. Not the evil tendencies we all harbor, released only when under extreme duress. I mean, the type of evil that allows you to take a life—or try to. The laws police are sworn to protect and abide by apparently mean something different. 

My heart weighs heavy today in my chest. I wish I could describe the hollow feeling this news brings, but words are not enough.  

Do you feel it too?

Do you struggle with the emotional rollercoaster stemming from the outcry of an entire culture under attack in our country?   

I meditate on this thought—today and moving forward.  

How can I hold peace while also providing comfort and love to those who need it most right now?  

Say his name:

Jacob Blake.

~

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