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“Two Systems of Justice”: Jacob Blake’s Father on Son’s Case, Breonna Taylor & Black Lives Matter

StorySeptember 24, 2020
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As outrage mounts over the grand jury ruling in the police killing of Breonna Taylor, we look at the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where an investigation is in its final stages. The case sparked renewed national protests in August after viral video showed Kenosha police shooting the Black father in the back seven times, paralyzing him. We speak with Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr. He says police shootings and killings of Black people reveal there are “two systems of justice” in the United States, and asks, “Why are our children scared to death of people that are supposed to protect and serve them?”

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

As outrage mounts over the grand jury ruling in the police killing of Breonna Taylor, we turn to Wisconsin, where the investigation into the police shooting of Jacob Blake is in its final stages. Jake Blake’s case became a flashpoint for national protest after the African American father was shot in the back by Kenosha police seven times in August, paralyzing him. White police officer Rusten Sheskey fired the shots at point-blank range into Jacob Blake’s back as Blake leaned into his car. Inside the car were his three boys, aged 3, 5 and 8.

Prosecutors in Wisconsin have tapped former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray to serve as an independent voice during the final stages of the investigation into the shooting. Wray will review the state Department of Justice’s findings before a report is sent to Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley, who will ultimately decide whether charges should be filed against the police officers.

Well, for more, we’re going to Milwaukee, where we’re joined by Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jake Blake Jr. He has been fighting for justice for his son, alongside the parents of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others.

Jacob Blake Sr., welcome to Democracy Now!

JACOB BLAKE SR.: Good morning. Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re so sorry about what happened to your son. If you can respond to the decision that just has come down in Louisville, and then talk about how is your son Jake, in the hospital now?

JACOB BLAKE SR.: Well, what happened in Louisville shows the two systems of justice in the United States, clear and cut. If a young lady is murdered by the police, someone is responsible for that death, if the police were involved. But when it’s a Brown person, we don’t find the quick or the swift end of justice.

Jacob is doing much better. And his spirits are better. You know, it’s hard for him because of the pain, but we stand in support of my son, as well as George Floyd’s family and the Taylor family.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Mr. Jacob Blake, where is the process with the grand jury in your son’s case?

JACOB BLAKE SR.: Right now they’ve brought in an ex-police chief to do some investigation of what the district attorney has come up with at this point.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about that day, which I know is extremely painful for you? You weren’t in Kenosha when your son was shot by police officers. Talk about where you were and how you got the news, and then your response to the video.

JACOB BLAKE SR.: I was driving on South Boulevard in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I reside. And I got a phone call, and my phone was connected to my car. And all I heard was his mother screaming, “He’s shot! He’s shot! They shot him!” And I said, “Who shot who?” And she said, “The police shot Jacob.”

And it’s almost like it rewinds in my head every day. I hear that phone call in my sleep, when I’m awake. And I can’t even explain to you the emotion that you have as a parent when that phone call comes to you. And I didn’t have a Starship Enterprise. I couldn’t beam up to Milwaukee. So I was — I had been up all day. Two days ago before the phone call, I had just got back, arrived back from Chicago. So now I knew I had to turn around and head back to Milwaukee. And it was just — I do not remember driving in the mountains. I do not remember driving through Kentucky. I don’t remember. All I remember is walking in the hospital.

AMY GOODMAN: And that day that your son was shot was supposed to be such a happy day, is that right? Your little grandson —

JACOB BLAKE SR.: It started out as a happy day. My grandson, two hours before I got the call from his mother — maybe three hours. I really — that day is such a blur, I can’t tell you exactly. All I can tell you is how happy he was and the things that he — he had a list of things that he wanted his father to get. And we were laughing. And I said, “Man, well, you’re going to spend all your day today, baby.” And he laughed.

And I said, “Just call me back later, you know, when they sing or cut the cake or whatever.” And he said, “We’re going to call” — well, my grandchildren, all of them call me Papa. So, “Papa, we’re going to call you back. I’m going to show — I’m going to call you so you can see what I got.”

I remember hearing his little — just, you know, you can’t measure the happiness, but you could see the happiness. I could see the happiness in his voice. It just came through the phone, a picture of happiness, just an 8-year-old just happy to be with his dad.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the first news conference. We didn’t expect you were going to be speaking. I believe one of the lawyers said you wouldn’t be. But can you talk about that day, before we go to that clip?

JACOB BLAKE SR.: I had so many different emotions. You know, you have a father protective mode and a father worried mode. I was so tired. I had driven all night. And the news conference was that day. And it was — I was, at that particular time, on an emotional roller coaster.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s go to that moment where both you speak, as well as — this is you.

JACOB BLAKE SR.: They shot my son seven times — seven times — like he didn’t matter. But my son matters. … How would you feel if your white son walked up to you, as a mother, and said, “Mommy, why did the police shoot my daddy in the back?” You have no clue.

AMY GOODMAN: And you have repeatedly said, also at the March on Washington, your son is human, as if you have to say that. Tell us who your son is, and also your father, your son’s grandfather, who was so well known in Chicago as a civil rights leader, the Reverend Jacob Blake.

JACOB BLAKE SR.: Excuse me for a moment. I’m sorry. My son is a happy —

AMY GOODMAN: Take as much time as you need, Mr. Blake. We are so terribly sorry about what’s happened to your son and, of course, what’s happened to your whole family as a result.

JACOB BLAKE SR.: He was a — a jokester as a kid. He was a happy-go-lucky, smiling jokester. And he thought everything was funny. And I can hear him laughing as a kid. And as he got older, me and him had a special type of relationship, and it was almost like he was my best little friend at times. But knowing he was older — you know, he’s heading towards 30 — as a father, your relationship changes with your children, because now they see the things that you went through as a 30-year-old parent, so they respect you in a different way. And you share moments with each other that are priceless.

My father, being a civil rights leader, taught me and gave me the ability to be the man that I am today — firm, confident, unshakable.

Now, in regards to the emotional way that some things get me, you guys got me with when I was listening to Breonna’s boyfriend and that 911 call. He was scared to death. Why are our children scared to death of people that are supposed to protect and serve them? In 2020, why do I have to continuously tell people that my son is a human being? Why are we looked at like we’re animals? It’s not a good place to be in.

My father got beat for marching for civil rights 50 years ago, and we’re still trying to get equal rights. At some point in time, you get tired. There’s no avenue that’s given you directly to do what you need to do. No one can explain to you what to do. They tell you it takes time. Well, how much time? They tell you to vote. And we vote, and we’re going to keep voting.

We have to change these laws. Amy, we have to do something, because we’ve come up to this point to where the whole world is seeing the two systems of justice. And we’re not in the mood nor in the mindset of taking it anymore.

AMY GOODMAN: Jacob Blake —

JACOB BLAKE SR.: What are we to do?

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to continue this discussion. We ask you to stay with us. And we’re going to post it online at democracynow.org. Jacob Blake Sr., father of Jacob Blake Jr., shot seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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