Evanston res­i­dents rally against racism in wake of shoot­ing of Ja­cob Blake, ‘son of our com­mu­nity’

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY ELVIA MALAGÓN, STAFF RE­PORTER emalagón@sun­times.com | @Elvi­aMalagon Elvia Malagón’s re­port­ing on so­cial jus­tice and in­come in­equal­ity is made pos­si­ble by a grant from the Chicago Com­mu­nity Trust.

Evanston res­i­dent Gigi Giles re­mem­bers decades ago when Ja­cob Blake’s grand­fa­ther marched through the North Shore city call­ing for an end to seg­re­ga­tion.

Even though she was dis­gusted when she saw the video de­pict­ing the shoot­ing of the younger Ja­cob Blake, she is hope­ful it will spur change for the Black com­mu­nity. She’s thought back to the marches the Rev. Ja­cob S. Blake led which did even­tu­ally lead to Evanston de­seg­re­gat­ing.

“I know in my heart that this hap­pened for a rea­son,” Giles said. “Some­thing good is go­ing to come out of this.”

Giles, 61, was among a large crowd that gath­ered Sun­day in a park­ing lot within walk­ing dis­tance from the Ebenezer African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church in Evanston, which Ja­cob Blake’s grand­fa­ther once led.

The com­mu­nity ser­vice led by lo­cal re­li­gious lead­ers came a week after Blake, 29, was shot in the back re­peat­edly by Kenosha po­lice in Wis­con­sin.

Rabbi An­drea Lon­don, of the Beth Emet The Free Syn­a­gogue, told the crowd, “Ja­cob is the son of our com­mu­nity.” Many of the speak­ers Sun­day told the crowd “enough is enough” while urg­ing them to vote in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, say­ing it was one step to­ward tack­ling racism.

The Rev. Michael Nabors, of the Sec­ond Bap­tist Church, told the crowd that their pres­ence was in de­fi­ance of racism.

“The hopes of our an­ces­tors who worked for a bet­ter day shall not be de­stroyed,” Nabors said. “The dreams of those of good will who marched to­gether, went to jail to­gether and suf­fered to­gether only a gen­er­a­tion ago, those dreams will not dis­ap­pear for there is a right­eous­ness, there is a jus­tice in this uni­verse that has for­ever shown that good is more pow­er­ful than wrong. Love is more pow­er­ful than hate. And unity is more pow­er­ful than di­vi­sion.”

Many in the crowd brought lawn chairs to sit in while lis­ten­ing to the ser­vice, which at times in­cluded re­li­gious mu­sic. Some brought signs stat­ing “Black Lives Mat­ters.” Par­tic­i­pants wore masks, and or­ga­niz­ers en­cour­aged peo­ple to raise their fist in the air in­stead of hug­ging each other amid con­cerns of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

When it was time for Evanston Po­lice Chief Demitrous Cook to ad­dress the crowd, he paused as he ap­peared to get emo­tional.

“It’s time to do bet­ter,” Cook said, as the crowd clapped. “It’s time to get rid of the cops that don’t want to play ball our way.”

Cook, who said he re­mem­bers Ja­cob Blake as a child, said the com­mu­nity had some “se­ri­ous heal­ing” to do. He said his depart­ment planned to work with North­west­ern Univer­sity ex­perts to re­view their use-of-force poli­cies.

Kelly Ter­rell, 52, of Evanston, said the Evanston com­mu­nity is tight-knit. She’s known many of Blake’s rel­a­tives since she was a child, and she re­mem­bers Blake. She wanted the fam­ily to know the com­mu­nity cares about them.

“Now he’s a hash­tag, which is ab­so­lutely ter­ri­ble,” Ter­rell said after the ser­vice.

The Rev. Deb­o­rah Scott, of the Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, said she’s thought back to the speech Henry McNeal Turner gave in 1868 to the Ge­or­gia leg­is­la­ture when rules were created to ex­clude him from of­fice. He then ques­tioned if they viewed him as a man. Over the decades and in re­cent months, Scott said she con­tin­ues to hear that call for dig­nity among the Black com­mu­nity over and over again.

“It’s good that we are here,” Scott said to the crowd. “Not only have we been called to grieve, called to lament, but we have also been called into ac­tion.”

Blake re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized Satur­day. His fam­ily be­lieves the shoot­ing has left him par­a­lyzed from the waist down. On Satur­day, Blake’s fam­ily mem­bers led a peace­ful march through Kenosha to de­cry po­lice vi­o­lence.


Evanston Po­lice Chief Demitrous Cook says at the com­mu­nity rally Sun­day, “It’s time to do bet­ter.”


Ja­cob Blake

Rev. Deb­o­rah Scott

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