A MOTHER’S CALL FOR PEACE AND JUS­TICE

Ja­cob Blake’s mom ap­peals for end to loot­ing, wants of­fi­cers who fired shots to face con­se­quences

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY CLARE PROC­TOR AND MANNY RAMOS Staff Re­porters

KENOSHA, Wis. — The mother of Ja­cob Blake, a Black man shot by po­lice in this south­east­ern Wis­con­sin city over the week­end as his chil­dren looked on, on Tues­day called for a night of peace af­ter two nights of ri­ot­ing and de­struc­tion plagued the com­mu­nity.

But Blake’s mother, Ju­lia Jack­son, and other fam­ily mem­bers also called on the of­fi­cers who fired more than a half-dozen bul­lets into her son’s back to face jus­tice.

“If Ja­cob knew what was go­ing on he would be very un­pleased,” Jack­son said of the loot­ing and burn­ing that de­stroyed large swaths of Kenosha on Sun­day and Mon­day. “So I’m re­ally ask­ing and en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery­one in Wis­con­sin and abroad to take a mo­ment and ex­am­ine your heart.”

She said she was pray­ing for ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing po­lice of­fi­cers.

“We need heal­ing,” Jack­son said. “I also have been pray­ing, even be­fore this, for the heal­ing of our coun­try.”

Fam­ily at­tor­ney Ben Crump said Blake, 29, faces per­ma­nent in­juries af­ter un­der­go­ing surgery. “It is go­ing to take a mir­a­cle for Ja­cob Blake to ever walk again,” Crump said.

An­other fam­ily at­tor­ney speak­ing at the Blake fam­ily’s news con­fer­ence said Blake’s in­juries in­clude bul­let wounds to his spinal cord and stom­ach. His colon and small in­tes­tine were re­moved and he suf­fered dam­age to his kid­ney and liver.

Crump de­scribed the shoot­ing as a “bru­tal use of ex­ces­sive force once again on an African Amer­i­can that was cap­tured on video and is just shock­ing and out­ra­geous and dev­as­tat­ing. Dev­as­tat­ing to all of us, but mostly dev­as­tat­ing to his three lit­tle boys who were seated in the car when the po­lice lit­er­ally shot him at least seven times at point-blank range.”

Blake’s fa­ther, also named Ja­cob Blake, led a prayer and made a brief state­ment be­fore tear­ing up.

“They shot my son seven times. Like he didn’t mat­ter. But my son mat­ters,” he said.

The Chicago Sun-Times first re­ported early Mon­day on its web­site that Blake had been par­a­lyzed by the shoot­ing. The elder Ja­cob Blake re­layed the in­for­ma­tion as he was trav­el­ing from North Carolina to Wis­con­sin to be with his son.

The fa­ther and son had just spo­ken on Sun­day morn­ing. At the time, the younger Blake — a fa­ther of six — 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 at least seven times by po­lice. Eigh­teen min­utes later, he saw the nowvi­ral video, he said.

“What jus­ti­fied all those shots?” the older Ja­cob Blake said. “What jus­ti­fied do­ing that in front of my grand­sons? What are we do­ing?”

Blake’s mother said that the first thing her son said to her when she saw him was he was sorry. Three of the younger Blake’s sons — aged 3, 5 and 8 — were in the car at the time of the shoot­ing, Crump said.

“He said, ‘I don’t want to be a bur­den on you guys,’” Jack­son said. “‘I want to be with my chil­dren, and I don’t think I’ll walk again.’”

Some wit­nesses say the younger Blake, who at­tended mid­dle and high school in Evanston, was sim­ply try­ing to break up a fight Sun­day evening. A cell­phone video shows Blake walk­ing around and open­ing up his car door be­fore ap­pear­ing to be shot in the back by po­lice.

“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.”

“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.”

The younger Ja­cob Blake’s fi­ancee and chil­dren, who range in age from 3 to 13, are “get­ting show­ered with love,” Blake’s un­cle, Justin Blake, said. The fam­ily hopes to get both the chil­dren and Blake’s fi­ancee into ther­apy to deal with the trauma of 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 about three years.

“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.”

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.

Much of what Evanston’s Black com­mu­nity ben­e­fits from to­day can be traced back to the Rev. 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. Blake. “He turned a cou­ple ta­bles over in Evanston.”

Justin Blake also at­tended ETHS and now lives in Chicago’s Park Manor neigh­bor­hood. He founded Black Un­der­ground Re­cy­cling in neigh­bor­ing Englewood.

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.” Manny Ramos is a corps mem­ber in Re­port for Amer­ica, a not-for-profit jour­nal­ism pro­gram that aims to bol­ster Sun-Times cov­er­age of Chicago’s South and West sides.

Ju­lia Jack­son, Ja­cob Blake’s mother, speaks Tues­day. “We need heal­ing,” she said. “I also have been pray­ing, even be­fore this, for the heal­ing of our coun­try.”

COURTESY ADRIA-JOI WATKINS VIA AP

Adria-Joi Watkins poses with her sec­ond cousin Ja­cob Blake in Septem­ber in Evanston.

PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES

Ja­cob Blake, the fa­ther of Ja­cob Blake who was shot Sun­day in Kenosha, Wis­con­sin, speaks dur­ing a press con­fer­ence Tues­day af­ter­noon.

SUN-TIMES FILES

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.

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