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
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.”
Adria-Joi Watkins poses with her second cousin Jacob Blake in September in Evanston.
Jacob Blake, the father of Jacob Blake who was shot Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, speaks during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
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.