Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis., in late August, spoke from a hospital bed, describing his physical pain and appealing to others to “change y’all lives” in an emotional video released by his lawyer Saturday night.
“Every 24 hours, it’s pain,” Blake said. “It hurts to breathe. It hurts to sleep. It hurts to move from side to side. It hurts to eat.”
Blake first appeared on Friday for court, dressed in a blue button-up shirt and yellow tie. He is accused of one felony — third-degree sexual assault — and misdemeanor criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.
But Saturday night’s video showed Blake as a patient, not a defendant. Wearing a loosefitting hospital gown, Blake talked about the fragility of life and implored others to focus on what they could accomplish collectively.
“Your life, and not only just your life, your legs — something that you need to move around and move forward in life — can be taken from you like this,” said Blake, snapping his fingers. “Please, I’m telling you, change y’all lives out there. We can stick together, make some money, make everything easier for our people because there’s so much time that’s been wasted.”
The Aug. 23 shooting touched off waves of protests that put Wisconsin at the epicenter of the national debate over policing and racial justice. In the days following the incident, dozens of fires were set and some Kenosha businesses destroyed.
By Aug. 25, the demonstrations turned deadly. Prosecutors say Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Illinois who was patrolling the streets with a rifle, shot and killed two demonstrators. His attorneys say the teenager was acting in self-defense.
Sheskey, the officer who shot Blake, is on administrative leave pending an investigation.
President Trump visited Kenosha earlier this week, even after local officials urged him to stay away, and delivered a law and order message in the wake of the protests. At a roundtable on community safety, he blamed left-wing radicals and the antifa movement for the violence, and praised local police officers. “I really came today to thank law enforcement,” he said, “what you’ve done has been incredible.”
Protests have since subsided in Kenosha, where fencing remains in place around the government buildings that surround Civic Center Park but the National Guard presence has disappeared. BLAK, the local group that has led protests since the shooting, has concentrated its efforts on less confrontational forms of activism, hosting community cookouts over the weekend.
Justin Blake, who has emerged as an emotional spokesperson for the family, said the family had a positive meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during his visit this week. “My brother doesn’t like a lot of people,” Justin Blake said of Jacob’s father, “but he liked Joe Biden. It meant a lot for him to take time out of his schedule to be with the family.”
Robert Klemko in Kenosha contributed to this report.