Jacob Blake's Sister Speaks Out After Brother's Shooting: 'I Don't Want Your Pity, I Want Change'

Blake's family members spoke out hours before two people were killed during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin

Letetra Widman, sister of Jacob Blake
Letetra Widman, sister of Jacob Blake.

As Jacob Blake recovers from a police shooting that left him paralyzed below the waist, his sister demanded change, saying the incident is "nothing new" in what the student of Black history portrayed as a lengthy run of violence against Black Americans, concluding, "I'm not sad, I'm not sorry, I'm angry."

Blake was shot by a white police officer on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with multiple gunshots fired. The incident went viral after it was captured in bystander video, sparking three straight nights of clashes between police and protesters. Two people were killed, and a third was injured, by an unknown gunman in a shooting at a Kenosha protest Tuesday night.

"I am my brother's keeper," Blake's sister, Letetra Wideman, 30, said at a news conference earlier Tuesday. "And when you say the name Jacob Blake, make sure you say father, make sure you say cousin, make sure you say son, make sure you say uncle, but most importantly make sure you say human. Human life. Let it marinate in your mind. A human life. ... We're human, and his life matters."

"So many people have reached out to me, telling me they're sorry that this happened to my family," she said. "Well, don't be sorry because this has been happening to my family for a long time, longer than I can account for."

Jacob Blake
Jacob Blake, at left. Ben Crump Twitter

"It happened to Emmett Till. Emmett Till is my family," she said, citing the 14-year-old Chicago teen whose 1955 murder in Mississippi made him a civil rights martyr. "It happened to Philando, Mike Brown, Sandra," she said, cataloguing three more Black victims who died at the hands of police or in police custody -- Philando Castile, Michael Brown and Sandra Bland. "This has been happening to my family, and I've shed tears for every single one of these people that it's happened to."

"This is nothing new," she said. "I'm not sad, I'm not sorry, I'm angry. And I'm tired. ... I stopped crying years ago. I am numb. I have been watching police murder people that look like me for years. I'm also a Black history minor, so not only have I been watching it in the 30 years that I've been on this planet, but I've been 'watching' it for years before we were even alive."

"I'm not sad. I don't want your pity," Widman said. "I want change."

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Face-off between police and protesters after shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Police said Blake's shooting occurred after officers responded to a domestic incident but have offered no further details as the investigation was turned over to the state's Department of Justice. The Kenosha News reports at least six witnesses said Blake had tried to break up a fight between two women, and that police had tried to use a Taser on him before shooting him.

The widely shared video of the incident shows police officers following Blake, one with his gun raised and pointed, as Blake walks away from them and prepares to enter a vehicle. When Blake moves around the front of the vehicle, then opens the driver's side door and leans inside, at least seven gunshots are heard.

Three of Blake's six children (ages 3, 5 and 8) were in the car at the time and witnessed the shooting, said the family's attorney, Ben Crump.

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"As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident," Pete Deates, president of the Kenosha Professional Police Association, said in a statement issued after the video went viral. "We ask that you withhold from passing judgment until all the facts are known and released."

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The scene of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty

At Tuesday's press conference and hours before Tuesday night's protests, which occurred after Gov. Tony Evers' declared a state of emergency and deployed added National Guardsmen across the state, Blake's mother, Julia Jackson, issued a call for calm.

“I’ve noticed a lot of damage,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t reflect my son or my family.”

"Citizens, police officers, firemen, clergy, politicians: do Jacob justice on this level and examine your hearts," she said. "We need healing. As I pray for my son's healing -- physically, emotionally and spiritually -- I also have been praying even before this for the healing of our country."

She added: "Let's use our hearts, our love and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other."

Blake's father, Jacob Blake Sr., told reporters at the news conference: "They shot my son seven times, seven times. Like he didn't matter. But my son matters. He's a human being and he matters."

Another of Blake's sisters, Zietha Blake, said at the event: "His kids are his world. But not only that, his family is his world. He's upset because we're hurt, we're upset. He doesn't even care about himself. He's more so worried about us."

A GoFundMe page has been launched to benefit Blake.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

•Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

•National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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