Jacob Blake Takes His First Steps At Sons Birthday Party
Jacob Blake Jr., the Wisconsin man who was left paralyzed from the waist down last year after being shot by a white police officer, hopes to walk soon - a feat he says is tempered by worries of it happening again.
Blake was shot seven times in August 2020 by Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey. Blake's shooting sparked days of violent demonstrations in the town of about 100,000 people located halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, three months after police murdered George Floyd in Minnesota.
Blake told CNN he could take a few steps during a birthday party for his son this week, which he compared to sliding his legs through a woodchipper.
Even though he was "so geeked" at the time after months of physical rehabilitation, he said that he was not declaring triumph.
"Yeah, I'm here, and yeah, I'm about to be walking, but I don't feel like I have survived because it could happen to me again," Blake said. "I have not survived until something has changed."
Blake said that he is still reliving his shooting and other instances of gun violence in Black neighborhoods. Last month, while in Chicago with relatives for the Fourth of July fireworks, Blake called 911 for what he subsequently realized was an anxiety attack.
"I hear these booms, 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 imagining people dying," Blake said.
Rusten Sheskey shot Blake as two other Kenosha police attempted to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. During a struggle, a pocketknife slipped from Blake's pants.
Sheskey, who was not prosecuted, expressed concern for his safety to investigators. Blake said that he was willing to surrender after placing the knife in the car. He said he picked it up before attempting to get into a car and drive away with two of his children in the back seat.
The incident sparked chaos in the Kenosha region. An Illinois man is accused of shooting and killing two protesters and injuring another.
Kyle Rittenhouse faces two counts of attempted felony murder and two counts of felony murder in connection with the assault that left Blake "furious" and "mad."
"For the reasons [police] said they shot me, they had every reason to shoot him, but they didn't," Blake said. "Honestly, if his skin color was different, and I'm not prejudiced or a racist, he probably would have been labeled a terrorist."