Protests erupt in Wisconsin after shocking video shows police shoot ‘unarmed black man in back seven times’



A shocking video which appears to show police shoot an unarmed black man in the back seven times has sparked outrage in the US, with protests erupting across Wisconsin.

Officials confirmed the victim, identified as Jacob Blake, is in hospital in a serious condition after he was shot by police.

A city-wide curfew has been imposed until 7am local time after protesters clashed with police in Kenosha.


Hundreds marched to the scene of the shooting to chant “no justice, no peace”. Footage circulating on social media appeared to show protesters throw bricks and Molotov cocktails at officers.

Police said they had been responding to a “domestic incident” in Kenosha.

Jacob Blake is in a serious condition in hospital (attorneycrump/Instagaram)

A video which is said to show the incident shows a man walk towards a car followed by police officers.

Three officers can be seen shouting and pointing their weapons at the man as he walks around the front of an SUV parked on the street.

The man opens the car door as one of the officers grabs his shirt from the behind and fires his weapon a number of times into the vehicle.

The victim was immediately taken to a hospital by the police, according to a statement issued by the Kenosha police department.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers in a tweet. “We stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites”.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice said early on Monday that officers involved in the shooting had been placed on administrative leave.

One officer was reportedly injured after crowds marched down streets and threw items at police.

Multiple fires were reportedly set at the scene by people protesting the incident as police fired tear gas at the crowds.

Kenosha Police said in a statement that the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation will be investigating the shooting.

“At 5.11pm Kenosha Police Officers were sent to the 2800 block of 40th Street for a domestic incident and were involved in an officer involved shooting,” said Kenosha Police.

“Officers provided immediate aid to the person. The person was transported via Flight for Life to Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee. The person is in serious condition.”

Civil rights advocate and lawyer Ben Crump said on Twitter that Mr Blake had been trying to break up a fight between two women.

He also claimed that Mr Blake’s three sons were in the car at the time of the shooting.

Govenor Evers condemned the shooting of Jacob Blake in “broad daylight” in Kenosha.

“Kathy and I join his family, friends and neighbors in hoping earnestly that he will not succumb to his injuries,” said Governor Evers.

“While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.

“We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country… And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites.

“I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognise the racism in our state and our country for far too long.”

There have been ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in the US against police brutality and racism since the death on May 25 of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Additional reporting by Associated Press.



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Did UK Special Forces execute unarmed civilians?


A silhouette of soldiersImage copyright
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At the height of the war in Afghanistan in 2011, two senior officers from Special Forces met in a bar in Dorset to have a secret conversation. They feared some of the UK’s most highly-trained troops had adopted a “deliberate policy” of illegally killing unarmed men. Evidence is now emerging that suggests they were right.

The two senior officers were thousands of miles from the dust and danger of Helmand province in Afghanistan.

One had recently returned from the war where his troops reported their understanding that a policy of execution-style killings was being carried out by Special Forces.

The other had been at headquarters, reading reports from the frontline with growing concern. They showed a sharp rise in the number of “enemies killed in action” (EKIA) by UK Special Forces.

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This briefing note is believed to have been written by one of the most senior officers in UK Special Forces

Special Forces are the UK’s elite specialist troops, encompassing both the SAS (Special Air Service) and the SBS (Special Boat Service).

After the conversation, a briefing note believed to have been written by one of the most senior members of UK Special Forces was passed up the chain of command.

The message contained clear warnings for the highest levels of Special Forces and concluded that these “concerning” allegations merit “deeper investigation” to “at worst case put a stop to criminal behaviour”.

The documents were released to solicitors Leigh Day, as part of an ongoing case at the High Court, which will rule on whether allegations of unlawful killing by UK Special Forces were investigated properly.

The man bringing the case is Saifullah Ghareb Yar. He says that four members of his family were assassinated in the early hours of 16 February 2011.

It follows a BBC Panorama programme last year, which reported on the deaths. The programme worked with the Sunday Times Insight team to reveal evidence of a pattern of illegal killings by UK Special Forces.

The government maintains that the four members of Saifullah’s family were killed in self defence.

But now correspondence in the newly-released documents shows that some had grave concerns about the UK Special Forces mission.

Just hours after the elite troops had returned to base, other British soldiers were exchanging emails describing the events of that night as the “latest massacre”.


‘Shaking with fear’

At 01:00 in Nawa, rural Helmand, on 16 February 2011, Saifullah’s family were asleep in their home.

They woke suddenly to the sound of helicopter rotors, followed by shouting through megaphones. Saifullah was still a teenager but he was about to find himself in the middle of a Special Forces “kill or capture” mission.

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Saifullah’s uncle, Mohammed Bang, was the only person to be detained during the raid on the family home

These “night raids” were a common tactic at the time. They were typically carried out in partnership with Afghan forces under cover of darkness. Their purpose was to target senior members of the Taliban.

“My whole body was shaking because of the fear. Everyone was frightened. All the women and children were crying and screaming,” Saifullah told BBC Panorama.

He described how his hands were tied and he was put in a holding area with the women and children. He had not been there for long when he heard gunfire.

After the troops had left, the bodies of his two brothers were discovered in the fields surrounding their home. His cousin had been shot dead in a neighbouring building.

Going back into his house, Saifullah found his father, lying face down on the ground.

“His head, the forehead area, was shot with many bullets, and his leg was completely broken by the bullets,” he said.


Last year, Panorama exposed how the intelligence that identified the targets for these raids was often deficient.

Philip Alston, the former UN Special Rapporteur on executions, told the programme: “I have no doubt that overall many of the allegations [of innocent people being killed] are justified, and that we can conclude that a large number of civilians were killed in night raids, totally unjustifiably.”

Saifullah believes his family were wrongly targeted and then executed in cold blood.

In Nawa district, there was an outcry after the killings. The Governor of Helmand believed the victims were innocent civilians.

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Former intelligence officer Frank Ledwidge told Panorama last year the night raids were a “perpetual motion machine of killing and capturing”

British military emails from the aftermath of the raid obtained by Panorama suggest that eyewitnesses from the Afghan military supported Saifullah’s version of events.

A commanding officer from the Afghan forces is quoted as having said that no one was firing at the British but the four family members were shot anyway and that “he sees this as confirmation that innocents were killed”.

The Afghan commander suggests that “two men were shot trying to run away, and that the other two men were “assassinated” on target after they had already been detained and searched”.

The correspondence shows that these events sent shockwaves through the British military from Helmand to London.

Emails outline concerns over Afghan forces refusing to accompany the British on night raids because they did not believe the killings were justified. This was not the first time that the Afghan forces had made this complaint.

One senior Special Forces officer comments that this kind of falling out “puts at risk the [redacted] transition plan and more importantly the prospects of enduring UK influence” in Afghanistan.

“Aside from alienating our Afghan allies, the narrative of murderous British forces played right into the hands of the insurgents,” said Frank Ledwidge, a former military intelligence officer who served as a justice adviser in Helmand.

“The actions of some Special Forces actively undermined the overall counterinsurgency mission, which was challenging enough already,” he said.

‘You couldn’t make it up’

Among the documents released to the court is a detailed summary marked “secret”.

It includes an extract of the classified operational summary (OPSUM), which provides the official account of what the strike team did at Saifullah’s home.

The UK Special Forces reported that after initially securing the compound they went back in to search the rooms with one of the Afghan men they had detained.

While there, it says he suddenly reached for a grenade behind a curtain.

“He poses an immediate threat to life and is engaged with aimed shots. The assault team members take cover. The grenade malfunctions and does not detonate,” the OPSUM says.

That man was Saifullah’s father.

After the shooting, the OPSUM reports that another Afghan was moved into the neighbouring compound to help with the search of the buildings. They say he was also shot after picking up a weapon.

Image caption

Night time operations were common during the war in Afghanistan

That man was Saifullah’s cousin.

Both of Saifullah’s brothers are reported to have run away when they spotted the unit arriving. One hid in a bush with a grenade and was shot and killed when the explosive was spotted, says the OPSUM.

The other was reported to be hiding a short distance away with a machine gun. When he emerged from a hiding place under a blanket with the weapon, he too was shot.

This official account of the killings was met with suspicion by some in the British military.

Image caption

This email refers to a “B”, which is a military term for an adult male and an “A”, which refers to the building they targeted. “AK” refers to an AK-47, which is a type of machine gun

An internal email requests a copy of the OPSUM within hours of the killings and asks: “Is this about [redacted] latest massacre!”

The reply includes a summary of the unlikely events in the official report and concludes by saying: “You couldn’t MAKE IT UP!”

It looks as if the soldiers reading these reports had concerns that they were being falsified using near-identical cover stories.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said “This is not new evidence, and this historical case has already been independently investigated by the Royal Military Police as part of Operation Northmoor. It has also been subject to four reviews conducted by an Independent Review Team.

“These documents were considered as part of the independent investigations, which concluded there was insufficient evidence to refer the case for prosecution.

“The Service Police and the Service Prosecuting Authority of course remain open to considering allegations should new evidence, intelligence or information come to light.”

‘Perverting the course of justice’

The suspicious pattern of similar incidents leading to the killing of Afghan men during Special Forces night raids caught the eye of several people back at UK Special Forces headquarters in England.

The court documents show a review was ordered.

A Special Forces Major then examined all of the official reports of killings by the elite troops between December 2010 and April 2011.

He wrote to other senior officers to say the number of killings led him to conclude “we are getting some things wrong, right now”.

His report highlighted 10 incidents in which the similarity of the accounts in official paperwork raised his suspicions.

All involved the shooting of men who were detained before they unexpectedly grabbed a weapon during a search of the buildings.

The Major also found at least five separate incidents where more people were killed than there were weapons recovered. That means either the weapons went missing or the people who were killed were not armed.

In one case, nine people had been killed and only three weapons had been recovered.

The newly-released evidence appears to support revelations in last year’s Panorama and Sunday Times investigation.

Panorama reported that a large scale Royal Military Police (RMP) investigation called Operation Northmoor had linked dozens of suspicious killings on night raids. Among them were the deaths of Saifullah’s family members.

Image copyright
Family of Fazel Mohammed

Image caption

These bullet holes were left behind after four young people were shot dead in a night raid in Helmand in 2012

When the RMP interviewed the Special Forces troops who took part in the raid of 16 February 2011, all of them claimed they could not remember the specifics of the mission that night.

Operation Northmoor was investigating whether official operation reports had been falsified. In one case, the RMP had even brought charges against members of the UK Special Forces for murder, falsifying a report and perverting the course of justice.

But the charges were dropped and the government closed down Operation Northmoor without prosecuting a single case. Insiders said it was closed too soon for them to complete their investigation.

“It seems to be one of the unique characteristics of British Special Forces that they are truly accountable to no-one,” said Frank Ledwidge.

“Accountability must apply to everyone and particularly to the senior commanders and politicians who have allowed, condoned or ignored these alleged crimes and created the environment for them to happen”.

You can watch Panorama, War Crimes Scandal Exposed on BBC iPlayer



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George Floyd death: Funeral to take place of the unarmed black man who ‘sacrificed for the world’ | US News


When George Floyd left Houston it was in search of a fresh start in life.

He returned to Texas in death, his name now the focus of a nationwide, a worldwide, call to action.

George Floyd’s funeral at The Fountain of Praise Church will be attended, alongside his family and friends, by political, religious and civil rights leaders.

His death on a Minneapolis street two weeks ago, so public and so brutal, has sparked protests, marches and rallies. Millions are demanding America finally and properly address the age-old problem of inequality in the treatment of the African-American community.







The 8m 46s that killed George Floyd

On Monday, thousands queued in the heat and humidity of Houston to pay their respects at the final public memorial. In groups of 500, they filed past his open gold-coloured coffin.

“Change has come,” said Jesse Holmes. What Martin Luther King had long sought, he said, George Floyd had delivered. “The world will never be the same. We’re thankful. He sacrificed for the world.”

At the same time, the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was meeting George Floyd’s family. His ‘compassion, the family’s lawyer said, “meant the world to them”. The former vice-president has recorded a video message to be played at today’s funeral service.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden with George Floyd's family
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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden with George Floyd’s family

The reckoning in America following George Floyd’s death has forced the issue on to the agenda of the nation’s politicians. Biden has described Donald Trump’s response as “despicable”, Trump has retreated to a message of “law and order”.

In Washington DC, Democrats on Capitol Hill knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds – the length of time Mr Floyd spent with a police officer’s knee on his neck – to honour him and the campaign his death has reignited. The party also unveiled proposals to overhaul police procedures.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called for “transformative structural change”.



Ms Pelosi was among those who kneeled at the Capitol



Pelosi leads Democrats in kneeling for George Floyd

But across America there is a real determination to keep the pressure on those politicians, many of whom have been in office for decades, to demonstrate that serious change will take place this time.

Anger and outrage at deaths in the past has too often faded with little material change.

Mourners file past the open coffin of George Floyd
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Mourners file past the open coffin of George Floyd

In Houston, as in his birthplace in North Carolina at the weekend, the memorials for George Floyd represent a sense of personal loss.

A highly-talented basketball and football player, known to friends and family by his middle name Perry, he was also a familiar figure on the city’s hip hop scene. He moved to Minneapolis six years ago but two of his children still live in Texas.

A memorial honouring George Floyd in Houston's Third Ward where he grew up
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A memorial honouring George Floyd in Houston’s Third Ward where he grew up

There is a new mural in his memory near his old home in Houston’s Third Ward.

“It is a watershed moment for the American people,” said Houston’s police chief Art Acevedo.

Following his funeral service, George Floyd will be laid to rest at a cemetery in the suburb of Pearland.

He will be buried next to his mother, the end of a life story that could reverberate for generations, in a legacy of real and lasting change.



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Israel kills unarmed autistic Palestinian


Israeli police have shot dead an unarmed autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City after saying they suspected he was carrying a weapon. an unarmed autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City after saying they suspected he was carrying a weapon.

The shooting drew broad condemnations and revived complaints alleging excessive force by Israeli security forces. On social media, some compared the shooting to police violence in the US

Relatives identified the man as Iyad Halak, 32. They said he suffered from autism and was heading to the school for students with special needs where he studied each day when he was shot on Saturday.

“They killed him in cold blood,” Halak’s mother, Rana, told Israel’s Channel 12 TV.

In a statement, Israeli police said they spotted a suspect “with a suspicious object that looked like a pistol”. When he failed to obey orders to stop, officers opened fire, the statement said. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld later said no weapon was found.

Channel 12 said members of Israel’s paramilitary border police force fired at Halak’s legs and chased him into a dead-end alley. It said a senior officer ordered a halt in fire as they entered the alley, but that a second officer did not listen and fired six or seven bullets from an M-16 rifle, killing Halak. The report said both officers were taken into custody and interrogated for several hours.

AP video from the scene showed three bullet holes in a white wall at the end of the alleyway.

Halak’s father, Kheiri, said police raided the family’s home after the shooting. “They found nothing,” he said, claiming that police had cursed his daughter when she became upset at them.

Lone Palestinian attackers with no clear links to armed groups have carried out a series of stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks in recent years.

Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups have long accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force in some cases, either by killing individuals who could have been arrested or using lethal force when their lives were not in danger.

Originally published as Israel kills unarmed autistic Palestinian



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Questions for police after ‘very disturbing’ killing of unarmed African-American jogger


Police in the southern US state of Georgia have failed to explain why it took them 74 days to arrest two men suspected of killing an unarmed black jogger in a crime sparking outrage across the world. 

Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, were arrested late Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault in the 23 February death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery.

Mr Arbery’s death in the coastal city of Brunswick, captured in a video that has gone viral, was the latest killing of an unarmed black American, galvanizing activists who say the death highlights deeply rooted racism in the country.

Hundreds of demonstrators, their faces covered in masks to protect them from the coronavirus, gathered in front of the city’s courthouse on Friday to demand justice for Mr Arbery.

Ahmaud Arbery, in white, runs on a street in Georgia in the moments before he is shot and killed.

Twitter

President Donald Trump said he had seen the video and called it “very, very disturbing.”

“That looks like a really good, young guy… It’s a very disturbing situation to me, and I just – you know, my heart goes out to the parents and the family and the friends,” he told Fox News in an interview.

Vic Reynolds, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, told a news conference that “there is more than sufficient probable cause in this case for felony murder.”

Mr Reynolds declined to explicitly criticise local police who initially investigated the case in the two months after Mr Arbery was killed, but admitted “there were things that needed to be done and have been done yesterday.”

“Considering the fact that we hit the ground running Wednesday morning and within 36 hours we had secured warrants for two individuals for murder – I think that speaks volumes in itself,” he said.

He added that the investigation was ongoing and there could be more arrests.

Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested two days after the release of a video showing Mr Arbery being gunned down in the middle of a road in broad daylight.

In the footage, Mr Arbery is seen running down a residential street and approaching a white pickup truck stopped in the right lane with a man standing in the back.

As Mr Arbery tries to get around the vehicle, he is confronted by a second man holding a shotgun. An altercation between the two ensues and three shots can be heard.

The man who filmed the clip that caught the nation’s attention has also been named as a person of interest in the investigation.

Mr Reynolds said the investigation would focus exclusively on the killing – and not the reasons why local authorities were so slow to act.

Media reports have said Gregory McMichael, a retired police officer, had long worked in the local district attorney’s office as an investigator.

The two first prosecutors in the case recused themselves, although it took several weeks for the second one to do so.

The original police report stated that Gregory McMichael had claimed he thought Mr Arbery was a burglar trying to escape the scene of a nearby break-in.

He said he and his son grabbed their guns and set off in pursuit, but that the confrontation went badly wrong.

The slain man’s family said he was simply out jogging and was the victim of a hate crime.

The footage of the shooting sent shockwaves across the country and prompted a number of celebrities to call for action, including basketball star LeBron James and actress Zoe Kravitz.





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