While the shooting on Sunday of 29-year-old Jacob Blake stoked or re-ignited fiery demonstrations across  the country, an equally passionate but  much more personal rally took place in Evanston on Aug. 25 in support of the Blake family.

Jacob Blake, shot multiple times by police in Kenosha, Wis., and hospitalized in Milwaukee, is now paralyzed from the waist down. Police shot him multiple times as he tried to enter his vehicle. His sons, ages 3, 5 and 8, were reportedly in the vehicle and, it is believed, saw their father fall from the gunfire.

The son and grandson of men named Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old was a graduate of Evanston Township High School. Jacob Blake, the grandfather, was a pastor at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church and was instrumental in building Ebenezer Primm Towers, 1001 Emerson St..

Farther west, at 1615 Emerson St., a 75-unit affordable housing complex bears his name, and it was in a parking lot across the street that about 100 people gathered on Aug. 25 in support of the family and of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“This is about Evanston; this is about family,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “The family has been known in Evanston doing good for generations.” She said the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a civil rights and police reform bill, would not have gathered so much attention were it not for rallies such as this one.

Fifth Ward Alderman Robin Rue Simmons said, “It’s awful to be meeting under these circumstances – COVID-19 and police terror. The Blake family has [helped] this community. They have given back. … Jacob was shot at least seven time, with his sons in the back seat of the car.” She said the boys are her nephews. … Jacob, we are praying with you, we are praying for you.”

Mayor Stephen Hagerty issued the following statement:

“On Sunday evening, I was devastated to learn of yet another police-involved shooting of a Black man in our country. Although this horrific incident occurred in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Jacob Blake has deep roots in Evanston, and his family has long worked to advance civil rights in our city and beyond.

“Evanston’s collective hearts ache for Jacob and his family, and we are praying for his full and speedy recovery. Although painful, this incident reinforces our City’s commitment to eradicating racism, addressing inequalities, and continued professional development of our police officers.

“On Sunday, August 30 at 2 p.m., an outdoor service of lament will be held at Ebenezer AME Church in Evanston, 1109 Emerson St., where Jacob’s grandfather was pastor. All community members are invited to attend to support the Blake family, and to continue our work to heal the deep wounds and racial injustices that plague our country.”

The Youth Job Center issued the following statement: “YJC’s board and staff are shocked at the situation that senselessly resulted in the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, WI in front of his children. In light of this shooting, YJC’s board and staff reaffirm our commitment to end racism by calling out racist behaviors and practices in our work with young people.”

The Wisconsin Department of Justice is reportedly investigating the shooting, assisted by the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department and with the cooperation of the involved officers, who are on administrative leave, according to an NPR report on Aug. 25.

It is not clear at this point whether Mr. Blake’s paralysis will be permanent.

A gofundme account has raised $750,000 so far, with a goal of $1 million.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...