Nas, Cardi B, 50 Cent, T.I. & others speak out against shooting of Jacob Blake Jr.
On Sunday, Aug. 23, disturbing footage emerged of unarmed 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake Jr. being shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer.
In the footage, Blake can be seen walking away from officers and attempting to enter his vehicle before being mercilessly gunned down, and in front of his three children, no less. Blake survived, but he is paralyzed and his attorney Ben Crump has stated, “it’s going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr. to ever walk again.”
Crump noted that the bullets severed Blake’s spinal cord and shattered his vertebrae, while another attorney for the Blake family added that the young man’s organs had also been severely damaged.
The shooting has ignited new police brutality and racial injustice protests across the United States, and the situation has become increasingly volatile in Blake’s hometown of Kenosha. For the past few days, there have been high amounts of destruction in the waterfront town, with violent clashes between opposing groups leaving at least two people dead and several injured.
Yesterday, a white, 17-year-old police admirer was arrested in the killing of two people gunned down during the chaos. The shootings were caught on camera, along with what appeared to be the shooter attempting to turn himself in to police before being shooed away.
The kid they arrested doesn’t look older than 14 so it’s kind of puzzling that not one officer thought to take issue with him waving his rifle around, let alone shooting multiple people.
In the wake of the two deaths and civil unrest, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers authorized the deployment of 500 members of the National Guard to Kenosha.
The tragic situation is a staunch reminder that there is still a ton of work needed to be done to truly address the racial injustice and human rights violations in America. Nothing has really changed other than more people speaking out. The cops are still killing unarmed Black people.
In the three months since George Floyd’s senseless murder at the hands of Minneapolis police, a ton of new videos of police brutality have emerged, showing they really haven’t changed or addressed their usual M.O. at all. They haven’t weeded out the bad apples. There’s even new videos of officers applying the same knee-to-the-neck maneuver that killed Floyd. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a reminder of this lack of change has renewed people’s desire to speak out.
Nas: “Coward Shit”
As one would hope, some of the biggest names in the hip-hop community have spoken out at the injustice handed to Blake, and the dire need for reform in policing and how America treats people of colour.
50 Cent was one of the first to speak out, taking to social media shortly after the video emerged:
“No way. What the fuck kinda law enforcement is this? Shot this man 7 times in his back, in front of his kids,” 50 tweeted. In a later post he would refer to to shooting as ‘attempted murder.’
Cardi B was also quick to voice her disgust:
“Wow this is SICKENING!” Cardi B wrote in the caption of a video of the shooting on Instagram. “I can’t believe it! What’s going to be the excuse now? They just don’t give a fuckk no more! SOMETHING MUST HAPPEN! Yooo, this is insane they really not giving a fuck anymore. Lord please!”
On Tuesday, Nas posted a picture of Blake along with the caption: “Jacob Blake. Unarmed. Shot 7 times in the back. Coward shit. Prayers to Jacob and his family.” He also posted an image titled “Take Action” and the message “Call local officials to demand the police officers are held accountable.” The image lists the phone numbers of the Kenosha City Attorney, the Kenosha Mayor and City Administration, the Kenosha Police Non Emergency Line and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
T.I. posted a screenshot of a tweet with news that Blake had survived the shooting, and included words of support in the post caption: “The only news I care to post on the matter. ✊🏽Get well soon King 👑 We witchu💯 #JusticeForJacobBlake”
DJ Quik posted a picture of a woman holding a sign and captioned it with “Say Less.” The sign read, “We live in a world where trained cops can panic & act on impulse but untrained civilians must remain calm with a gun in their face.”
Thankfully, more people with influence are standing up. Several Canadian artists have also taken to social media to speak out against the injustice.
VanVleet: “Nothing’s Really Changing”
While an increasing amount of names from hip-hop community are beginning to take a stand against the Blake shooting, other corners of the entertainment industry are also taking action.
Yesterday, three NBA playoff games were postponed, as well as three WNBA games, three MLB games and five MLS games. The NBA made an official statement announcing that the games would be postponed and rescheduled. Further to that, players from the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers voted to boycott the remainder of the 2019-2020 season. All other NBA teams voted to continue playing.
ESPN reported that there has only been one previous time in NBA history when players have boycotted a game. It happened in 1961 when several members of the Boston Celtics sat out to protest racial injustice.
Toronto Raptors players Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell were vocal after George Floyd’s murder and they’ve been addressing the media again in the wake of the Blake shooting.
“You know, coming down here and making a choice to play was supposed to not be in vain, but it’s just starting to feel like everything we’re doing is going through the motions and nothing’s really changing,” VanVleet said Tuesday. “Here we are today with another unfortunate incident, so my thoughts today are with that man and his family and trying to wrap my mind around what they’re going through.”
One professional sports league notably missing from the conversation yesterday was the NHL, with all three games played as scheduled. That said, several NHL players have come out in support of the NBA players who opted not to suit up yesterday, and more than 100 players joined a call today to address the NHL’s response moving forward.
The phone call played a huge part in the NHL officially postponing its games for both today and tomorrow.
Evander Kane, a member of the San Jose Sharks and one of the two players who lead the call between players, posted about the decision at roughly 3:15 p.m. on Thursday. “The PLAYERS took a stand today, they stepped up. Proud of my fellow nhl PLAYERS for their action.”
Kane’s tweet was in response to hockey analyst Pierre LeBrun who pointed out that it was the players who took it upon themselves to reach out to Kane (and Matt Dumba—two of just a large handful of non-white NHL players).
Before the news of the cancellation, Kane had been highly vocal of his frustration with the NHL’s lack of action in the wake of the Blake shooting:
“It’s great to write statements, it’s great to send tweets, it’s great to post stories and pictures on Instagram, but at the end of the day it’s going to be about real action and meaningful change, and unfortunately that still isn’t occurring, and we need to be better.”
Early yesterday, Kane tweeted his support for the NBA protest (technically a labor strike): “Major statement by the NBA players 👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽 I’m with it!”
While the Jacob Blake shooting has reignited calls for justice, and given fuel to the civil rights movement, supporters of African-American Breonna Taylor have been working overtime to ensure her name hasn’t been lost in the shuffle. On March 13, 2020, the 26-year-old emergency medical technician was fatally shot in a botched raid by Louisville Metro Police Department officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove. At the time of the shooting, Taylor and her boyfriend were asleep in their home when police used a battering ram to force open their apartment door. Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker believed their home was being broken into, which caused Walker to act in self-defense.
As The Cut reported, “Walker, a licensed firearm carrier, shot first, striking a police officer in the leg; in response, the officers opened fire with more than 20 rounds, hitting objects in the living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway, bathroom, and both bedrooms. Taylor was shot at least eight times and pronounced dead at the scene.” Walker, has insisted that police did not identify themselves prior to the shooting taking place.
All three officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative reassignment pending the outcome of an investigation, and the FBI has announced an official probe into the case. Prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against Walker, after initially hitting him with charges of first-degree assault and attempted murder of a police officer.
There has been a ton of outcry for charges to be brought against the three officers involved in Taylor’s death, including some of the same notable names speaking out against the Blake shooting. Beyoncé is one example of an artist with a huge platform going to great lengths (along with her hubby Jay-Z) to demand justice. In June, she wrote an open letter to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron demanding charges and pointing out the inconsistencies of the LMPD’s investigation into the case.
Sadly, Breonna Taylor is just one of many victims still awaiting justice for crimes committed by law enforcement, but with influential people continuing to speak out there’s hope to be had that change is attainable. Change in the form of swift justice against members of law enforcement that commit crimes, and seriously tackling issues of police brutality and racial injustice. Many people have called for action since Taylor’s death, but we’re still seeing little to no progress within the police departments. This is why it’s important to support initiatives like #SayHerName—keeping the names of Black female victims like Taylor in the conversation—and to find out how you can make a difference from home.
Black Lives Matter
As Evander Kane’s statement noted, the Jacob Blake Jr. shooting is a serious reminder that a lot still needs to be done to see some real change. The proof is in the numbers and endless amounts of incidents caught on camera.
As Samuel Sinyangwe tweeted on Aug. 24: “There have only been 12 days in 2020 where police did not kill someone. The police killed 751 people in 235 days.” And according to data up to Aug. 22, there were only three days since Floyd’s death on May 25 in which police did not kill someone in the US—June 4, June 14, and August 12.
Since George Floyd’s tragic murder in May, we’ve been regularly taking the time to research and educate ourselves on the best ways we can make a difference from Canada; abroad and here at home where systemic racism is still very much rampant.
Speaking out on platforms like social media is important. There needs to be a unified voice and there’s strength in numbers, but a lot more can be done to get involved and support the Black Lives Matter movement.
We’ve compiled a list of different types of ways you can get active and start pushing for change. Click here to view the list.
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