Blake paralyzed from the waist down after being shot multiple times by Kenosha police. Evers declares state of emergency, doubles National Guard deployment.
Jacob Blake’s family say he is a man whose “kids mean the world to him.” He looks nearly identical to one of his sisters who he talks to every night. He is a brother, a son, and most of all, he is a human being.
But the world outside his family came to know him as the man who was shot at least seven times at point-blank range on Sunday by a Kenosha police officer. He is now paralzyed from the waist down. His family said it is too soon to say if the paralysis is permanent.
“It’s going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake, Jr. to ever walk again,” said Benjamin Crump, a nationally known civil rights attorney who also is representing the family of George Floyd.
Crump joined Blake’s father, mother, and three sisters at a press conference in Kenosha Tuesday to announce the family is filing a civil suit against the Kenosha Police Department due to injuries Blake sustained from being shot by police. Crump, along with Patrick Salvi and B’Ivory LaMarr, will represent the Blake family.
The Kenosha Police Department and other city officials have said little about the shooting. The state Department of Justice is investigating the officers. The state has not released the names of the officers or how many have been placed on administrative leave.
Salvi said the family is filing the suit to hold the officers accountable and to ensure Blake has the resources he will need to heal and receive the “absolute best medical care.”
Salvi said bullets severed Blake’s spinal cord, shattered vertebrae, caused puncture wounds to his stomach, damaged his colon and small intestines to the extent that a majority of the two organs have already been removed, and damaged his kidney and liver. Blake also sustained a gunshot wound to an arm.
“They shot my son seven times. Like he didn’t matter,” said Jacob Blake, Sr. “But my son matters. He is a human being, and he matters.”
Salvi said Blake was taken for emergency surgery just before the press conference.
“Jacob has a long road ahead of him,” Salvi said. “He is in surgery now, and it will not be his last.”
Blake’s shooting ignited a new round of back-to-back protests in Kenosha and Madison. The demonstration have been destructive, with protesters in Kenosha shooting fireworks at officers Monday night and officers turning to tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Protesters in Madison vandalized stores on State Street, causing a still undetermined amount of damage before they too were subjected to tear gas.
Shortly before the press conference Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency in response to the destruction caused in Kenosha and Madison Monday night. Evers is doubling the number of Wisconsin National Guard troops deployed from 125 to 250.
“We cannot forget the reason why these protests began, and what we have seen play out over the last two nights and many nights this year is the pain, anguish, and exhaustion of being Black in our state and country,” said Evers in a statement.
He added that as he stated Monday, “everyone should be able to exercise their fundamental right—whether a protester or member of the press—peacefully and safely.”
Julia Jackson, Blake’s mother, said she noticed the “damage and destruction” as the family was driving through Kenosha. She said the damage does not represent her son or her family. She said what the family needs is healing.
“If Jacob knew what was going on, the violence and the destruction, he would be very unpleased,” Jackson said. “I am asking and encouraging everyone in Wisconsin and abroad to take a moment and examine your heart. Citizens, police officers, firemen, clergy, politicians. Do Jacob justice on this level and examine your hearts. We need healing.”
She said as she prays for her son’s physical, emotional, and spiritual healing, she also prays for the healing of the country.
“Clearly you can see by now I have beautiful brown skin. But take a look at your hand,” Jackson said. “And whatever shade it is it is beautiful as well. How dare we hate what we are. We are humans.”
Each of Blake’s sisters spoke about their close relationships with their brother. Letetra Wideman described herself as her “brother’s keeper.” She said people have been reaching out to tell her and her family how sorry they are that this is happening to them.
“I am numb,” Wideman said. “I have been watching the police murder people who look like me for years.”
Kenosha police officers reported to a domestic disturbance call around 5 p.m. Sunday. Witnesses have told the media Blake was trying to break up a verbal fight between two women.
Blake had a bench warrant out for his arrest. It is not clear what was said between officers and Blake, but he started walking away from them in an attempt to get in his SUV. They followed him with guns pointed at this back.
When Blake opened the driver’s side door, an officer grabbed the back of his shirt, then fired at least seven shots in his back. Three of Blake’s sons, aged 3, 5, and 8, were in the car at the time of the shooting. The oldest was celebrating his birthday, Crump said.
“Heaven is full to its capacity with the victims who have been taken by law enforcement,” said LaMarr, one of Blake’s attorneys based in Milwaukee. “That’s probably why Jacob is here today. Heaven is full.”