Last Updated on October 16, 2022
Mandela Barnes proudly endorsed the protests that led to widespread looting and multiple deaths in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after convicted sex offender Jacob Blake was shot while in the process of kidnapping a child. Barnes portrayed Blake’s shooting as an injustice and pledged his support to the child kidnapper’s cause. Rioting in Blake’s name caused upwards of $50 million in property damage, while the officer who shot him was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
In August 2020, Kenosha Police officers responded to a call after a mother reported that her child was being kidnapped by Blake. The woman — who had obtained a restraining order against Blake after he sexually assaulted her — urged officers to intervene.
When they arrived, Blake was in a vehicle with two children and was attempting to leave the scene. He was also armed with a knife. As Blake attempted to peel off, he was shot multiple times, leaving him paralyzed.
Despite his criminal record and the nature of the crime that led to his shooting, Jacob Blake received widespread support from the Black Lives Matter movement. Both the MLB and NBA suspended games in protest of the shooting while a GoFundMe fundraiser in his name raised over $2 million.
Mandela Barnes responded to the shooting with a riot-inciting tweet that falsely claimed Blake was shot for no reason. “Last night, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times in front of his children. This wasn’t an accident. The officer’s deadly actions attempted to take a person’s life in broad daylight. Like many of you, the video is burned into my mind like all the past videos just like it,” Barnes wrote in a tweet from his government account.
After the shooting spawned a fresh round of riots in the summer of 2020, Mandela Barnes joined several radical speakers at a “Justice for Jacob Blake” rally in Kenosha.
“Several impassioned speakers — including Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes — took to the stage, and the crowd estimated between 1,000 and 2,000 joined in with that passion during a rally in support of Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old Kenosha man who was shot seven times last Sunday by Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey,” wrote the Kenosha News when describing the event.
One of Barnes’ fellow speakers later went “off-message,” the Kenosha News reported. “I love being black. I love black people. I know some of you may not want to say that … You tell us how to behave when you have taken our lives. The black man is worth something. His life is worth something. I have to say god damn it – if you kill one of us, it’s time for us to kill one of yours,” the unidentified speaker exclaimed. “I know everybody don’t want to hear that. But damn why are we the ones who have to keep burying ours and got to keep clean for you to see us as being human? We ain’t never did nothing to nobody.”
During a prior press conference, Barnes declared the officers guilty, saying that an investigation was not needed. “We don’t need an investigation to know that (Jacob) Blake’s shooting falls in a long and painful pattern of violence. And this is a pattern of violence that happens against Black lives too often across this country,” Barnes said. The officer who shot Blake was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
Barnes also baselessly claimed that officers were carrying out “some sort of vendetta” against Blake.
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes: "We don't need an investigation to know that (Jacob) Blake's shooting falls in a long and painful pattern of violence. And this is a pattern of violence that happens against Black lives too often across this country" pic.twitter.com/KhX192PT4J
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 27, 2020
"This wasn't bad police work, this felt like some sort of vendetta being taken out on a member of our community."
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes responds to last night's police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin. https://t.co/T5b3P3Uqyb pic.twitter.com/nxXXfP2Uu6
— ABC News (@ABC) August 24, 2020
The Kenosha riots caused an estimated $50 million in property damage after multiple businesses were torched. At least 100 buildings were burned down, causing 40 businesses to “close down for good,” according to Heather Wessling, the vice president of economic development for the Kenosha Area Business Alliance
The rioting also led to two deaths, after then 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was forced to shoot two leftist rioters in self-defense.
Mandela Barnes still believes that Jacob Blake is a victim, as evidenced by a Twitter thread he posted one year after he was shot. “On August 23, 2020, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times in front of his children in Kenosha. Today – 1 year later – we are still living in a world where a deadly pandemic continues to spread and where systemic racism continues to ravage communities of color,” Barnes wrote on August 23, 2021.
“My heart and thoughts go to Jacob Blake and his family and friends, as he continues to recover while paralyzed from the waist down. They also go to Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosembaum – two lives cruelly taken too soon by a gunman while they marched to demand Justice for Jacob,” he continued, referencing the convicted pedophile and woman abuser shot by Rittenhouse in self-defense. Rittenhouse was ultimately cleared of all charges after numerous video angles showed he was attacked first.