State Watch

Jacob Blake: ‘I’m telling you, change your lives out there’

Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot several times in the back by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wis., last month, is calling for his supporters to “stick together” and to recognize that their lives could be taken away from them at any moment. 

“I just want to say, to all the young cats out there and even the older ones, there’s a lot more life to live out here man,” Blake said while speaking from a hospital bed in a video that was posted by his family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, on Saturday. 

“Your life, and not only just your life, your legs … can be taken from you like this,” Blake said before snapping his fingers. 

The comments marked the first time Blake has spoken publicly since video of a Kenosha police officer shooting him reignited nationwide demonstrations. Blake, 29, was shot multiple times in the back on Aug. 23 after officers responded to a report of a domestic disturbance.

Video showed an officer trailing behind Blake and firing his weapon seven times after Blake leaned into his car. Blake is paralyzed from the waist down, according to his family. 

While speaking in a green gown from his hospital bed, Blake said his stomach and back have been stapled. He also said he experiences pain 24 hours a day, noting it hurts to breathe, eat and sleep. 

“You do not want to have to deal with this,” he said. “Please, I’m telling you, change your lives out there. We can stick together, make some money, make everything easier for our people.”

The Justice Department and Wisconsin officials have initiated investigations into the shooting in Kenosha. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden last week said that charges against the officer who fired his weapon appeared warranted. 

Blake on Friday made a virtual court appearance from his hospital bed. His attorney submitted not guilty pleas to charges unrelated to the Aug. 23 incident, which reportedly include third-degree sexual assault, misdemeanor criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

Protest erupted in Kenosha and other U.S. cities in response to Blake’s shooting, with activists demanding lawmakers put in place policies to combat police brutality and racial injustice. The demonstrations came just a few a months after footage of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked mass protests across the nation. 

Updated at 9:04 a.m.

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