US sports called off as teams protest Jacob Blake shooting

Major US sporting events have been called off as athletes protested against racial injustice following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last week.

Three NBA play-off games, two Major League Baseball matches, three WNBA fixtures and five Major League Soccer games were postponed after player-led actions in response to the shooting of African-American Blake and the civil unrest that has followed.

The US National Basketball Association (NBA) postponed three playoff games scheduled for Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting.

“The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association today announced that in light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games – Bucks vs. Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers – have been postponed.  Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled,” the association wrote.

The Milwaukee Bucks protested the shooting by deciding not to take to court for their game 5 of the playoff series against Orlando Magic.

The Magics also supported the Bucks by not agreeing to a forfeit win with the league body.

Other players and teams including Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder franchises protested the shooting and prevailed on the NBA to postpone three games.

Ben Crump, Blake’s family’s attorney, called the boycott “a powerful statement” while also commending athletes who speak “truth to power and motivate the positive change we want to see in the world.”

Jacob Blake was hit by four of seven shots fired towards his back during an arrest by Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey.

The incident occurred in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 23, 2020, as police officers were attempting to arrest Blake over a domestic violence dispute.

The shooting has sparked a wave of protests in recent days, some of which have turned violent.

US President Donald Trump has since sent federal law enforcement to Kenosha, tweeting they were to combat "looting, arson, violence, and lawlessness on American streets".

The Department of Justice has opened a federal investigation into the shooting. It has sent more than 200 FBI agents and US Marshals to the city, according to a spokeswoman.

Shortly after Trump's tweet, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said he had authorised 500 National Guard troops to support law enforcement efforts amid concerns about further violence.

Protests have also spread to a number of other US cities, including Portland, Oregon and in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in May sparked Black Lives Matter protests across the US and globally.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin's attorney general, Josh Kaul, named Rusten Sheskey as the officer that shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back as he opened the door of his car.

Officers found a knife in Blake's car, he added, but no other weapons.

While updating reporters on Wednesday, the attorney general said officers were called to an address on Sunday evening after a woman reported "her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises".

Lawyers for Blake have said he had been trying to "de-escalate a domestic incident" when police drew their weapons.

While there they tried to arrest Blake, initially using a taser against him. After Blake opened his car door, officer Rusten Sheskey - who has been in the Kenosha Police Department for seven years - fired seven shots into Blake's back.

"No other officer fired their weapon," Kaul said.

Wisconsin's attorney general also addressed the recent violence in the city, calling it "despicable".

He said that there are some people "involved in destructive activity who are not from the city of Kenosha or not from the state of Wisconsin".

"All they are doing is creating chaos," he said, adding that the people of Kenosha "deserve to have the opportunity to grieve, protest peacefully [and] call for the change they want to see."

Blake is recovering in hospital and is conscious, but his lawyers fear it will take a "miracle" for him to walk again.

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