• Sun. Nov 29th, 2020

Jacob Blake’s father says son’s paralyzed from waist down after police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin – Chicago Sun-Times

When Jacob Blake’s father talked with his son Sunday morning, the younger Blake was gearing up for a day of celebrating his son’s eighth birthday.

That evening, the father got word that his son had been shot eight times by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Eighteen minutes later, he saw the now-viral video, he said.

“What justified all those shots?” his father said. “What justified doing that in front of my grandsons? What are we doing?”

Some witnesses say Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who attended middle and high school in Evanston, was simply trying to break up a fight Sunday evening. The cellphone video of the incident shows Blake walking around and opening up his car door before appearing to be shot in the back by police.

Eight holes

His father said there are now “eight holes” in his son’s body, and he’s paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors don’t yet know if the injury is permanent.

The elder Blake made the drive from Charlotte, North Carolina, to be with his son in the hospital Tuesday.

“I want to put my hand on my son’s cheek and kiss him on his forehead, and then I’ll be OK,” his father said. “I’ll kiss him with my mask. The first thing I want to do is touch my son.”

He called the incident “attempted murder” and said “those two officers shot eight shots inside my baby’s back.”

“At first, it catches you off guard and you become over-the-top emotional,” his father said. “Then you get to the point where you go from emotional to mad. Your child is not in danger of dying, but they took him to the edge.”

Jacob Blake’s fiancee and six children are “getting showered with love,” his uncle Justin Blake said, and the family hopes to get both the children and his fiancee into therapy concerning the shooting.

Growing up, the younger Jacob Blake was a “happy little dude,” his father said. He grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, before moving to Evanston in middle school, attending Nichols Middle School and Evanston Township High School.

He’s been living in Kenosha for about three years, his father said, and is the father of six children between ages 3 and 13. Family is “definitely” important to the younger Blake, who has seven brothers and five sisters, according to his father.

“If you were in need of something and my son had it, he would not hesitate to give it to you,” his father said. “He’s a very giving individual.”

The elder Jacob Blake keeps a book on his nightstand that his son made and dedicated to him in third grade. “He’s very sincere,” his father said.

Family’s Evanston, civil rights ties

Musician L. Stanley Davis has been friends with the Blake family since 1971. The Rev. Jacob Blake Sr., the grandfather of the Jacob Blake whom police shot in Kenosha, was the “father that I never really had,” said Davis, 68, of Woodlawn.

The minister was an activist for affordable housing in Evanston and pastored the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church from 1967 to 1976, said the Rev. Deborah Scott, who currently leads the church.

In 1968, the Rev. Blake helped to organize a march in support of fair housing after Martin Luther King Jr’s death, according to the Evanston History Center. Four years later, he led his church in building the Ebenezer Primm Towers, which provide affordable housing for seniors. In 2003, Jacob Blake Manor, which also provides low-income housing for seniors, was named after the minister.

The Rev. Jacob Blake at a press conference. The young Jacob Blake’s grandfather pastored Ebenezer AME Church from 1967 to 1976 and fought for fair housing in Evanston.
The Rev. Jacob Blake at a press conference. The young Jacob Blake’s grandfather pastored Ebenezer AME Church from 1967 to 1976 and fought for fair housing in Evanston.
Sun-Times file

Much of what Evanston’s Black community benefits from today can be traced back to the Rev. Jacob Blake, Davis said. The pastor employed Black students at Northwestern University in the church and offered up space to house the Northwestern Community Ensemble, a gospel choir Davis founded in 1971, Davis said. Seeing a lack of Black teachers at Evanston Township High School, the Rev. Jacob Blake urged the district to diversify its teaching staff.

“Forget the glass ceiling — he knocked the door down,” said Davis, 68, of Woodlawn, of the Rev. Jacob Blake. “He turned a couple tables over in Evanston.”

Justin Blake also attended ETHS and now lives in the Park Manor neighborhood. He founded Black Underground Recycling in neighboring Englewood to provide income to the Black community and run a community center.

Justin Blake said his nephew would visit and help serve food to thousands of Chicagoans on the South and West sides.

“Him being a Blake, you don’t have an option to say, ‘No, I don’t feel good today,’” his uncle said. “You go out and build the community. You have no choice but to do something positive in your community.”

Protests erupted Sunday after the shooting of the 29-year-old Blake, with cars set on fire and windows smashed out. Monday night, peaceful protesters marched through the city streets, denouncing police abuse, but the incidents again turned violent after dark. Kenosha residents were waking up Tuesday to desolate streets with burned out buildings.

Children in back of SUV

Blake’s partner, Laquisha Booker, told NBC’s Milwaukee affiliate, WTMJ-TV, that the couple’s three children were in the back seat of the SUV when police shot him. “That man just literally grabbed him by his shirt and looked the other way and was just shooting him. With the kids in the back screaming. Screaming,” Booker said.

“They start to wrestle,” said another witness at the scene, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The officer is punching on him. Two officers come to assist. They get him down on the curb behind his vehicle. Somehow he manages to get up. They said he has a knife. All of the officers pull out their guns. … (One of the officers) tells him, ‘Get out of the car!’ and he starts shooting.”

The witness said he never saw a knife.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Monday that he has seen no information to suggest Blake had a knife or other weapon, but that the case is still being investigated.

The police officers who shot Jacob Blake were “the flint as well as the gasoline” sparking the violence in Kenosha, his father said.

“Those police officers that shot my son like a dog in the street are responsible for everything that has happened in the city of Kenosha,” his father said. “My son is not responsible for it. My son didn’t have a weapon. He didn’t have a gun.”

Contributing: Maureen O’Donnell, AP