Jacob Blake is able to stand and hopes to be able to walk soon, but he told CNN that he is still traumatized from being shot by Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey seven times in his side on August 23, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisc., during a domestic dispute call.
During a recent visit to Chicago during the 4th of July weekend, Blake said he called 911 after experiencing an anxiety attack as fireworks were set off. He says the episode “was the most painful experience” since he was shot last summer.
“Before we even got to the 4th of July, the weekend was bloody already,” Blake says. “I was watching all of my people dying.”
“I’m hearing these booms [fireworks] and it’s not scaring me because I got shot, it’s scaring me because all of those people have gotten shot so every time a boom went off, I’m kind of imagining people dying.”
He told CNN that he has watched himself get shot around 300 times.
George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis right before the start of summer, while Blake’s shooting came towards the end of that season. While Blake was in the hospital coming in and out of consciousness while being handcuffed to the bed, he remembers seeing people hit the streets over his shooting.
“I can’t really explain the feeling...it was out of body. I felt like I was floating for a while, watching everything happen,” Blake said. “It blew my mind that they were that mad about it, that people care about it, that they care about me.”
Here is more from CNN:
Blake even remembers talking about Floyd, and the aftermath of his murder, in the weeks leading up to his own shooting. Floyd was killed by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020, nearly four months to the day before Blake was shot.
“One thing that I said, they’re gonna end up shooting the wrong person or killing the wrong person,” Blake told CNN. “And a month later it happened to me.”
A year later, he feels nothing is different in terms of policing and the general divisiveness of the world, but he’s determined to change that.
“Yeah, I’m here, and yeah I’m about to be walking, but I really don’t feel like I have survived because it could happen to me again,” Blake says. “I have not survived until something has changed.”
Today Blake is proud to even be able to stand, much less walk.
“I was so geeked,” says Blake on his first time being able to stand in October 2020. “I forgot how tall I was,” he says of his about 6'0 tall frame.
Blake tells CNN he was able to take a few steps during his son’s birthday celebration on August 23 this year, an effort that came on the other side of months of physical rehabilitation.
“At one point it felt like someone was sliding my legs through a woodchipper,” he says, even as he pointed to improvements. “It’s been progress every two weeks...it made it easier for me to be like I’m healing.”
The healing process, however, has had to come on multiple fronts, both physically and mentally.
“I’m still going through a lot of pain,” Blake says. “Last week I was up for three days straight, slept for a whole day.”
It takes a toll on his day-to-day life, one that he told CNN is driven by his Christian faith, but also one where his physical body and his daily mindset are traumatically intertwined.
“When I fall into depression, which I have, it makes my body hurt,” Blake says. “I don’t have the physical strength to be upset.”
The Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Gravely said in a January report that because Blake was armed with a knife and that in the moment before Officer Sheskey opened fire, “Jacob Blake twisted his body, moving his right hand with the knife towards Officer Sheskey,” the shooting was justified and was consistent with police department training.
Blake is not optimistic about community relations between cops and Black people, especially after the Breonna Taylor and Floyd killings along with his own shooting.
But Blake is being proactive in other ways. He is a co-founder of Edifye, a nonprofit that started after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to leave their tunnel before an NBA game in the summer of 2020 because they were protesting Blake’s shooting. Edifye raises money for communal bail and legal funds, organize community events, combat modern redlining, in part through partnerships with professional athletes.
“I don’t want to just sit back cooling out, I just want to help these kids,” Blake said. He is motivated by the fact that Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police Officer who murdered Floyd, is serving a 22.5-year sentence in the murder of Floyd.
“That hurt everybody, I’m worried about my children, what future do they have in this?” Blake said. “This man traumatized the world by killing a man in slow motion.”