We continue our conversation with the father of Jacob Blake Jr., who was paralyzed last month after a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot him in the back seven times in front of three of his children.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, as we continue to look at the the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as the official investigation nears its end.
We’re bringing you Part 2 of our conversation with Jacob Blake Sr. His son was paralyzed last month after police shot him in the back seven times in front of three of his children, aged 3, 5 and 8.
On August 28th, Jacob Blake Sr. spoke at the March on Washington on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., along with several other family members of victims of police violence. The clip begins with Jacob Blake Sr. It’s followed by George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, and the mother of Breonna Taylor, Tamika Palmer. This is Jacob Blake.
JACOB BLAKE SR.: We’re going to hold court today. We’re going to hold court on systematic racism. We’re going to have court right now. Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Racism against all of us. Guilty! Guilty! Racism against Trayvon Martin. We find them guilty! Racism against George Floyd. We find them guilty! Racism against Jacob Blake, Abdul Duwala [phon.]. If I said the name wrong, Allah forgive me. Guilty! And we’re not taking it anymore!
PHILONISE FLOYD: I wish George were here to see this right now. That’s who I’m marching for. I’m marching for George, for Breonna, for Ahmaud, for Jacob, for Pamela Turner, for Michael Brown, Trayvon, and anybody else who lost their lives, all to evil. … As of now, everybody out here right now, our leaders, they need to follow us, while we’re marching, to enact laws to protect us. Man, it’s hard, man. It’s really hard. I’m so sorry, man.
TAMIKA PALMER: What we need is change. And we’re at a point where we can get that change, but we have to stand together. We have to vote.
AMY GOODMAN: And that last voice, Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, and before that, Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, and first, our guest, Jacob Blake Sr., all at the March on Washington on the National Mall.
We are continuing our conversation with Jacob Blake Sr., whose son, Jacob Blake Jr., was shot seven times by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in front of his three little boys.
Jacob Blake Sr., you were a longtime civil rights activist, like your father before you, in Chicago, in Evanston, who led a housing equality movement, worked with Dr. King. Were you going to this march anyway, before your son was shot?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: That was our plan. That’s where we were going, without a doubt.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, now you’re —
JACOB BLAKE SR.: We were headed there.
AMY GOODMAN: Now your son Jacob, paralyzed by the police, is in a, at this point, Illinois facility. Can you talk about his condition right now? We know so little, as this investigation winds up into what happened to your son. He is very real. He is your child, even if he is an adult with children himself. Talk about his condition.
JACOB BLAKE SR.: Right now he has paralysis from the waist down. And he’s been battling all kinds of issues and problems. He avoided surgery yesterday, but had to have a procedure for some other problems. And it’s a continuous battle. And he’s battling. He’s a tough guy, tough little dude. He’s my guy. And we became tough, because we had no choice to be tough. This is actually the second time he’s been shot by someone.
AMY GOODMAN: What was the first time?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: The first time, I had thrown a 30th reunion party in Evanston, and 1,500 to a thousand of my classmates came out. And we had a wonderful evening. And then, after it was all over, I believe there was five — four of my kids and maybe four of my nieces and nephews. So we all got three or four tables and went to the IHOP on Howard Street and Asbury in Evanston. And just some guy showed up and shot at my son for five or six times, point-blank range.
AMY GOODMAN: How old was he?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: Oh, this was only a couple years ago.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Mr. Jacob Blake, if you could talk about the significance of the protests that have occurred in the wake of these police shootings? And what, for your family, would justice look like? What would you like to see happen?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: What our family wants is the officer that tried to murder my son brought up on charges, because you understand that if he would have shot one time my son in the back, it was still too much. But you would have been like, he was overzealous, he was over — you know, two times, you start wondering. At the third shot, you understand that if another shot comes, he’s trying to kill him. He wasn’t trying to take him down. He was trying to kill my boy. There’s absolutely no question in anyone’s mind what he was setting out to do.
And we want the same justice that a white 29-year-old would have received. We want that same justice. We want the justice system where the lady is blindfolded holding the scales of justice. We want her. We don’t want the woman that’s holding the scale that has on bifocals. We don’t want the system that shows us, as African Americans, guilty until we’re proven innocent. We want the system where we’re innocent until we’re proven guilty. That’s what we want. And that should only be right. That’s what democracy is all about, if I’m correct. If I’m incorrect, I stand to be corrected.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Mr. Blake, a lot of the protesters have been calling for defunding the police rather than attempting to reform the police. What is your opinion?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: Well, defunding is reforming, because it’s a reacclimation of funds to a system that is broken. So, if a system is broken, if you’re funding something that’s broken, and you refund it, what is that other than rebuilding the system? That’s part of — see, it’s vernacular. We’re arguing over eggs and chickens, which came first. But that has no longer any — that doesn’t matter. What matters is, the system has been proven to be broken. So, if we do not reform the system by reacclimating funds, reacclimating — we need more psychological people on staff in police departments. We need deescalation training, because what you witnessed with my son was escalation to almost death.
So, that police officer took away the democracy, took away the democratic rule of law. He took away the judge, he took away the jury, and he became the executioner. So, when that happens, you understand the system is not just. It’s broken. He became three parts of the judicial system at one time. He had sentenced my son. He had found his guilt. He was the judge who held the gavel. And he was the person who threw the switch. It was a botched execution. Because I’ve said it before, you cannot take what is not yours, unless it’s that person’s time to go. So he tried to take something that wasn’t his, and he wasn’t allowed to do it. So my son will tell his story for the rest of his life, because this individual jumped to judgment.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you demanding the police officer be charged with attempted murder, Jacob Blake?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: We’re demanding. We’re demanding that he be charged. Demanding. I’m not backing off an inch, an iota. You can’t throw a dollar amount at my son’s life.
AMY GOODMAN: And have you had communication with the Kenosha Police Department, with the attorney general of Wisconsin? What do you understand, in the final stages of this investigation? Has your family been talked to? Has Jacob, your son, been talked to?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: My son interviewed with them. But they have not contacted either one, me or his mother. They’ve contacted our lawyers. No — no “I’m sorry”s. No nothing.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel they’ve been attempting to assassinate the character of your son?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: Of course. You besmudge — you have to besmudge him. He’s 29 years old. He’s never had a felony, 29, never had a felony. So now it’s besmudge and besmudge. That’s their routine.
AMY GOODMAN: And this has become a part —
JACOB BLAKE SR.: But I’m here to hold my son up.
AMY GOODMAN: This has become part of the presidential election campaign. I’m wondering if you could talk about President Trump coming to Kenosha. And what did your family feel? How did you feel? Did you refuse to meet with him? Did he reach out to you?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: We didn’t refuse anything. I was never contacted.
AMY GOODMAN: Repeat that?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: I was never contacted by the president.
AMY GOODMAN: So, he comes to Kenosha, which is in an uproar. Not only is your shot son shot seven times, but a few days later a white vigilante, on Tuesday, shoots dead two of the Black Lives Matter protesters. And President Trump —
JACOB BLAKE SR.: And blows one person’s arm off.
AMY GOODMAN: And critically injures a third. I wanted to go to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who said he spoke with you and your family.
JOE BIDEN: As I got off the airplane, had an opportunity to spend some time with Jacob on the phone. He’s out of ICU. We spoke for about 15 minutes, his brother and two sisters, his dad and his mom on the telephone. And I spoke to them a lot before, but we spent time together with my wife. And he talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how, whether he walked again or not, he was not going to give up.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about that phone meeting that Joseph Biden had with your son? And also, did you meet with him?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: Yes, I did meet with him. It was almost at — the first time he called was maybe the first week that Jacob was in the hospital. And him and Kamala Harris were on the phone together. It was a conference call. They stayed on that phone with us for over an hour, talking to me, Jacob’s mother and my daughter, Letetra. And we talked to them like it was a normal concerned conversation about the health of my son. And no press, no cameras, just them on the phone.
And it was so — it was such a natural conversation, and he shared things from his personal past about his family and the issues that he went through. And he said that I was better than him, because he was so angry after he lost his son and his wife. And I said — and he said he just had so much respect, because I’ve been able to shelve my anger. And when he brought his wife and himself in that room, and it was just him, his wife, me and my family, of course, he had aides and Secret Service, but he was talking to my family. He was talking to Jacob. That was a person talking to another person, a human being talking to another human being — what humanity is about. It doesn’t matter what color you are, because we all breathe air, blood in our veins. He was a older human concerned about a younger human that had been shot seven times in his back. And his wife was so real. It just was a real — it really happened. And it was so real.
And him and Kamala did not have to do what they did. On two different occasions, they both came into town. After the phone call that we had that lasted over an hour, they still came in to meet us and show their concern. And I got sick the morning that we were supposed to meet with Kamala, and I ended up being rushed away by an ambulance. She came outside to the ambulance and stood there next to me until the ambulance pulled off. I will never in my life forget that. Never in my life. That was a powerful moment. That woman did not have to stand there next to me out there in the cold. And it was kind of chilly that morning. And she stood there next to me and talked to me, like a sister would talk to a brother.
AMY GOODMAN: So, I wanted to go back to President Trump, who did not mention your son’s name, Jacob Blake’s name, when he went to Kenosha. He didn’t to meet with you all. But he did say this about police officers in a Fox News interview, overall defending police officers.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But they choke, just like in a golf tournament. They miss a three-foot putt.
LAURA INGRAHAM: You’re not comparing it to golf, because, of course, that’s what the media will say.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, I’m saying people choke.
AMY GOODMAN: He’s saying people choke. He’s not talking about chokeholds there, Jacob Blake. He’s talking about police officers who shoot, comparing them to golfers who choke. Your response?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: He compared my son to a putt. And I will forever remember that day, that interview, what he said out of his mouth, and to make it so simple and plain that my son had no meaning to him more than a dimpled golf ball, that these people, George Floyd and others that have been killed, had no meaning more than a golf ball, Top Flite. And it lets you know what your worth as a person is to that individual, no matter who it may be.
AMY GOODMAN: Can I ask you, Jacob Blake, about your grandchildren, Jacob Blake’s 3-year-old, 5-year-old and 8-year-old? The 8-year-old, it was his birthday that day. Started off as a beautiful day of fun. They were in the backseat. They watched the officer shoot their dad in the back seven times. What do they understand right now? How are they dealing right now?
JACOB BLAKE SR.: It’s tough on them. We can’t really assess what effect this is all having on them right now, because there’s a lot of things going on and turmoil. And they will be — each one will be — well, there’s five altogether, that live together, and then there’s a sixth. He has six children altogether. And all of them have been affected. And their psychological well-being must be assessed and dealt with, because they’ll be dealing with this the rest of their lives.
The baby boy, we — I had them all together not too long ago. And we were riding in the car down the highway, and he just started screaming and pointing. And I was like, “What? You know, what’s going on?” We’re driving, and he was screaming at the top of his lungs. And Tay, his older brother, said, “Oh, he’s pointing at that police car, Papa.” And he’s 3 years old.
The 8-year-old asks me over and over again, “Today you’re taking us to see Papa, right?” And, you know, I can’t — they can’t go up because of the virus. They can’t go up and visit their father. And every time, it’s the same thing with the 8-year-old: “Papa, why did they shoot Daddy that much?” I said, “Baby, they weren’t supposed to shoot Daddy at all.”
And then, after he was shot, he had reached over. He had leaned over into the backseat, because he didn’t know if this was it, and told them, “Man, I love y’all.” And they heard him. They heard him. So, for until they got to speak to him — I believe it was about two weeks until they got to hear him talk. I think, in their little minds, they thought that we were trying to keep from them that their father had expired. They thought, in their minds, they were never going to see their father again. So, when they heard him and then when they video-called him, you know that — you started to see a distinct change. They’re little people. So you started to see a little people change.
AMY GOODMAN: Jacob Blake Sr., I want to thank you so much for being with us, for sharing this very, very personal impact of what has happened to your son and to his children, to your entire family. We will, of course, continue to cover the aftermath of this, something that has really not only rocked Kenosha, not only the state of Wisconsin, not only this country, but has people deeply concerned and rising up around the world. Jacob Blake Sr., thanks so much for joining us.
JACOB BLAKE SR.: Thank you so much, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Jacob Blake Sr. is the father of Jacob Blake Jr., who was shot seven times by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. To see Part 1 of our discussion, go to democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Thank you for joining us.