Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) argued on Thursday, regarding Jacob Blake’s shooting by Wisconsin police, that black lives have never “been treated as fully human” in America.
Harris, the Democrat vice-presidential nominee, made the remark in a speech that was billed as a pre-rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s appearance at the Republican National Convention. The California lawmaker, in particular, argued recent events, including Blake’s shooting and the death of George Floyd in police custody, had exposed the difficult realities facing many of the country’s citizens.
“The reality is that the life of a black person in America has never been treated as fully human,” Harris said. “We have yet to fulfill that promise of equal justice under the law.”
“It’s no wonder people are taking to the streets. And I support them,” she added in another part of the speech. “We must always defend peaceful protests and peaceful protestors. We should not confuse them with those looting and committing acts of violence, including the shooter who was arrested for murder.”
Harris’s speech came as protests and rioting have continued to roil portions of Wisconsin. The tumult began on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when local police shot Blake, a 29-year-old black American man, several times in the back. According to local media reports, police were called to respond to a “domestic incident” at the site of the shooting. Several witnesses have claimed that Blake was attempting to break up a fight between two women when police arrived.
Video from the scene, which went viral on social media, shows Blake walking away from police as the officers have their weapons drawn. In the video, Blake is seen opening the door of an SUV as a police officer attempts to stop him before firing at least seven shots into his back.
After the video of the shooting appeared on social media, protests erupted on the streets of Kenosha. Those protests quickly turned violent. On Monday, in particular, several businesses were burnt to the ground, including, a local charity.
The situation only intensified on Tuesday with more looting and confrontations occurring across Kenosha. One of those incidents caught national attention when a 17-year-old Illinois resident, Kyle Rittenhouse, killed two individuals and wounded a third with a rifle. Rittenhouse, who had identified himself as a supporter of law enforcement, was arrested on Wednesday for the shootings.
In the wake of such incidents, the Department of Justice announced it is deploying federal resources to Wisconsin to help quell the unrest.