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Members of Evanston’s faith community and others on Aug. 30 guided the crowd of mourners, supporters and activists in a service of lament for Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old man who was shot by Kenosha, Wis., police a week ago.
Though a Kenosha resident, Mr. Blake grew up here, a member of a well-known and respected family. His grandfather, also named Jacob Blake, served as pastor of Ebenezer AME Church for many years and was instrumental in the building of Primm Towers – a low-income senior housing complex a few blocks east of the church. Farther west, another senior housing complex bears his name.
Several hundred people, masked and for the most part maintaining appropriate distances, attended the service, which had been moved from the church, nearby, to the outdoor Saturday farmers market space.
“We are called to be healers,” said Rabbi Andrea London of Beth Emet the Free Synagogue. “We are praying for everyone to show how humans are supposed to treat each other.”
Pastor Michael Woolf of Lake Street Church said, “We must dig down deep without ourselves. … We need justice, mercy and compassion.”
Police Chief Demitrous Cook spoke of the untapped resources. “We’ve never realized the resources that are here in our neighborhood,” he said. “We can do better” and added, “I’m ready to play ball our way.”
Elder Jaleon Thorn of the Milwaukee District Ebenezer Church spoke on behalf of Bishop John White of the 4th Episcopal District. “We are here to express solidarity with Jacob Blake and his family.”
“Enough is enough,” said Mayor Stephen Hagerty. “This needs to stop. Your presence here,” he told the audience, “shows that all Black lives matter.” He said he and the other elected officials at the service “are here to stand in prayer and say, ‘Enough.’ We understand this has been done time and time again. We are here as your allies as you demand change.”
Reverend Martha Holmes of Bethany Baptist Church said, “Let justice flow like a stream. … We won’t move forward without it.” Justice, she said, is social justice, distributive justice and legal justice. “Can you imagine this?” she asked the audience; “Can you imagine your child being run down in the streets? I, too, am angry. I am outraged.”
Rev. Holmes concluded words of encouragement from Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope” and from the Christian New Testament, “We are persecuted but not forsaken.”
Reverend Dr. Michael Nabors, Senior Pastor at Second Baptist Church and co-convener of the service, also spoke of hope: “Racism and white supremacy shall never have the final say. Good is more powerful than evil; love is more powerful than hate; unity is more powerful than division. … Let everyone who supports racism know that you are not welcome in this community. We are Evanston Strong.”
Pastor Monté Dillard of First Church of God in Christ ended the service with a benediction. The crowd, which had spontaneously applauded all the speakers, dispersed solemnly to a recording of “We Shall Overcome.”