The American sports world, leading NBA basketball players, has started an unprecedented boycott of competitions in reaction to the Jacob Blake affair, named after the young African-American seriously injured by a police officer, who is reviving the anti-racist movement in the United States. United States.
Triggered by the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, which boycotted a game and forced the NBA to postpone several other games on Wednesday, the movement has spread at high speed.
“WE CALL FOR CHANGE. WE’RE TIRED”, tweeted Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. According to several media, the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have voted to drop the NBA season.
Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka has refused to play in the semi-final of the Cincinnnati tournament, whose organizers have postponed all matches scheduled for Thursday by one day. Football and baseball matches have also been postponed due to a player boycott.
“As a black woman, I feel like there are much more important issues that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis,” explained Naomi Osaka, 22, whose mother is Japanese and father Haitian, and who has often spoken out in recent months to denounce racial injustice.
Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old father, was seriously injured when a police officer shot him seven times in the back on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as he resisted his arrest, in a context still unclear.
According to a statement from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, police were dispatched to the scene following a call from a woman saying that “her boy friend“was at home and “was not meant” be there. Once there, the statement added, the agents have, “unsuccessful”, “tried to stop“Jacob Blake using a taser.
Wave of emotion
The man had warned them that he “was in possession of a knife”, say local authorities. Investigators have indeed found a knife on the floor of the vehicle, in which was no other weapon, specifies the ministry by revealing the name of the police officer who fired seven times: Rusten Sheskey. He has so far been laid off with one of his colleagues.
Filmed by witnesses and broadcast on social networks, the scene sparked a wave of emotion in the country and triggered a dangerous cocktail in Kenosha involving rioters and vigilante groups.
Three months after the death of George Floyd, a black forty-something suffocated under the knee of a white policeman in Minneapolis, anger is again strong in the United States in the face of racism and police violence.
Reflection of growing anger, the processions degenerated into violence every night in Kenosha, with clashes between protesters and the police and numerous degradations despite a curfew, the deployment of 250 soldiers of the National Guard and appeals for calm from Jacob Blake’s family.
In this context of extreme tension, two people were shot dead and a third injured in circumstances which remain rather unclear.
A 17-year-old boy is suspected of being the author of the shootings and has been arraigned for murder charges, police said without giving further details.
According to local media, he was seen in the presence of armed men who pose as “militias” or some “self-defense groups”, eager to protect the city. County Sheriff David Beth has confirmed their presence in the area, without specifying whether the shooter was from those groups.
Some 200 people gathered in Kenosha in a peaceful march overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, shouting “No justice, no peace”. Another demonstration is scheduled for Thursday afternoon in front of the city courthouse.
In downtown Los Angeles, where around 300 anti-racism protesters gathered early in the morning, scuffles broke out with police firing rubber bullets after trying to carry out arrests at a rally in a tunnel, according to images broadcast by ABC News.
President Donald Trump, who has regularly defended the right to carry arms and self-defense, a speech dear to his electoral base, did not speak about this dramatic episode, emphasizing the excesses committed by the protesters.
“We will not tolerate looting, arson, violence and lawlessness on American streets “, Mr. Trump tweeted promising, according to his November 3 presidential campaign slogan, to “restore LAW and ORDER!” in Kenosha.
To do this, said the Republican president, the governor of Wisconsin has accepted the sending of new reinforcements, both members of the federal police and soldiers of the National Guard, in this city of 100,000 inhabitants.
His Democratic rival Joe Biden has adopted the posture of reconciler. “Once again a black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by the police. His children watched. It makes me sick.”, he tweeted.
Kenosha’s drama follows in the wake of a major anti-racist protest movement born after George Floyd’s death on May 25.
Demonstrations across the country have called for structural police reforms and a rethinking of US history to make more room for the suffering endured by minorities. Sometimes accompanied by looting and clashes with the police, they had run out of steam in recent weeks.