Rights group urges U.S. to protect protesters after two are shot dead while demanding justice for Jacob Blake

Amnesty International on Wednesday called on the United States to end gun violence and protect the rights of protesters, after two demonstrators were shot dead and another injured in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday night, while demanding justice for Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man shot at least seven times in the back at the weekend.

Family members and lawyers said Blake has been paralyzed from the waist down and it would be “a miracle” if he could walk again.

The 29-year old black father was said to be breaking up a fight between two women when police responded to a ‘domestic incident’.

What happened next was captured on a horrific video showing Blake being tased and then shot seven times in the back and at point blank as his kids watched helplessly from the back seat of his car.

With police failing to act against the white cop who pulled the triggered at least seven times, protests erupted in Wisconsin before spreading in several other cities, including in Washington D.C., the capital of the United States.

On Tuesday night, two protesters were shot dead and another was injured. A suspect is now in custody.

“Once more, we are witnessing why it is crucial for the United States to protect the rights of protestors who are exercising their right to hold peaceful public assemblies and to end gun violence,” Amnesty International End Gun Violence campaign manager, Ernest Coverson, said in a statement.

“Simply put, it is the duty of law enforcement officers to protect those who’ve gathered to protest. While Wisconsin is an open carry state, law enforcement officers should ensure that armed private individuals are not endangering public safety or targeting peaceful protestors,” Coverson said.

He added: “Law enforcement officers in Wisconsin and all over the U.S. have expressed concern over open carry laws in the past, as these policies escalate violence and endanger police and the public.

“The only requirement to openly carry a loaded firearm in Wisconsin is that the individual be 18 years old—no permit is needed. Two people are dead and one injured because an armed private individual—who did not even need a permit to carry his loaded gun—decided to target them. Open carry laws, especially where no permit is required to carry, endanger the public and should be repealed. The U.S. is failing to protect people’s right to live and to protest safely.

“With the Black Lives Matter movement growing into the largest social justice movement in the country’s history, it is more important than ever for law enforcement officers to dedicate themselves to ensuring that everyone can have their voices heard without losing their lives or being harmed.” 

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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