Another black man has been shot by police, this time in Kenosha, Wisc. And while the investigation of the shooting has barely gotten underway, the mob has already torched large swaths of the city. As usual, personal injury attorney Ben Crump is representing the “victim,” Jacob Blake, and pronounced the shooting to be an act of racism.
This time a new, and unwelcome, voice has joined the chorus, adding fuel to the fire. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden attempted to stir passions in a statement the morning after the shooting by saying:
These shots pierce the soul of our nation. Jill and I pray for Jacob’s recovery and for his children. Equal justice has not been real for Black Americans and so many others. We are at an inflection point. We must dismantle systemic racism. It is the urgent task before us.
A video of the incident raises more questions than it answers.
— chrizi (@nolimitchrizi) August 23, 2020
Justin Nix, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Nebraska Omaha, enumerated some of these in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
I can see he [Blake] is trying to get to his vehicle. Then it happens really quickly, one officer tugging on his shirt, then you hear the gunshots. … Do they see something we don’t see on the video?
Officers can use deadly force in Kenosha and elsewhere when they believe there’s an imminent threat to their own lives or the lives of others. It could be appropriate if he’s almost got his hands on a gun and they think he’s about to turn and shoot. Just saying he was shot in the back, there could conceivably be a justification for that — and I’m not saying there was.
But why wait for answers when there’s so much left to burn and pillage?
As I read up on the Blake shooting, I got to wondering about another individual whose story is similar to Blake’s. His name is Ariel Roman, and like Blake he was shot in the back by police. Like Blake at the time of the shooting, he was unarmed. (Roman’s crime was violating a city ordinance that prohibits walking from one subway car to another.) Like Blake, Roman survived his wounds but was severely injured.
I’m betting you’ve never heard of Roman. Why was his story confined to local media? Why were there no riots in the streets of Chicago, no shouts of racism, no looting or smashing of windows? The answer to all those questions may have something to do with Ariel Roman’s appearance.