Family, activists mark 1-year anniversary of Jacob Blake's shooting by Kenosha police

NOW: Family, activists mark 1-year anniversary of Jacob Blake’s shooting by Kenosha police

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KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Monday, Aug. 23, marks one year since a Kenosha police officer shot a man seven times. Jacob Blake was left paralyzed in the shooting.

Kenosha Officer Rusten Sheskey did not face any charges or disciplinary action after the incident.

The incident was captured on cellphone video and sparked days of protest, property destruction and violence on Kenosha's streets. It also became a focal point of the 2020 presidential election with both candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden visiting Kenosha.

One year later, the scars of what happened remain with the community.

"The whole purpose of being here is to bring about the unity to the community and show those who are in power that we are not going to stop until we get justice," said Justin Blake, Jacob Blake's father, during an event this past weekend.

Blake's father says he plans to be in Washington, D.C. next week to continue the protest.

On the day of the one-year anniversary, Kenosha's young people reflected on the anniversary through poetry readings at Civic Center Park.


"One year later we are all still here, but we have not forgotten yet, we still walk forward with faith that change will come," said Aniya Ervin, a senior at Bradford High School, as she read from a poem she wrote.

Ervin and other young people said the trauma of the past year has left an impact on them and their community.

"With the protests, with people asking you questions -- 'Hey, how's it going?' You really, you really got to take time and patience and relax, not relax, but give yourself that time to recoup," Ervin told CBS 58.

Civic Center Park has become significant in the fight for Kenosha's racial justice. An event honoring Jacob Blake was held in the park Monday night. 

“I went through uptown, downtown, all around town,” said Veronica King with NAACP Kenosha.

Veronica King's slideshow was on display Monday night at Civic Center Park.

“That is my contribution to the Blake family, to this event, is to take us back one year in photos,” said King.

People of faith came together outside a gas station on 60th Street. 

“God use us to change Kenosha, use us to change Wisconsin,” said Rev. Lawrence Kirby of Acts Church of Kenosha. “And so my prayer tonight is that all of us would commit to relationships with people who don't look like us,” said Kirby.

Blake's uncle says Jacob's out of the hospital, but still can't use his legs.

“So we're just glad that he has a new doctor and hopefully that will cut down on the tremendous pain that he's in every single minute of every day,” said Jacob's uncle, Justin Blake.

The Blake family remains disappointed that Officer Sheskey wasn't fired this year. 

“You shot an unarmed man seven times in the back, in front of his children and paralyzed him, and Officer Sheskey still works for the police department today? It's unconscionable,” said Justin Blake.

Several community groups are putting on a series of events this week to mark the one-year anniversary of the shooting, called "Uptown's Days of Healing."

"After the civil unrest, you saw a lot of devastation, a lot of hurt, a lot of lost hope in people and so we got to bring back hope," Elizabeth Webb, one of the event's organizers, said in an interview.

The series of events started with a prayer event in Kenosha that concluded with a prayer walk.

Governor Tony Evers said in a news conference Monday the Kenosha community continues to heal from what happened.

"We had a city that was extraordinarily distressed with lots of loss of life and loss of property, and it's important for us to not only remember but to work going forward," Evers said. "Everybody in Kenosha would also say we got a long way to go."

Gov. Tony Evers released the following statement Monday: 

“One year ago today, Jacob Blake’s life was forever changed. While we are grateful Jacob survived his injuries, we also know Jacob, his kids, and his family have and will face challenges they never imagined having to endure. We also know the families and friends of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber are undoubtedly grieving and mourning the loss of these young men this week. Kathy and I are thinking of Jacob and his loved ones, as well as the families and friends of Joseph and Anthony today, and we ask Wisconsinites to join us in extending our prayers for peace and healing.

This past year has been difficult, and especially for the Kenosha community as they have worked to come together to repair and rebuild. Wisconsin has taken important steps to increase transparency for use of force policies and incidents, limit the use of chokeholds, and require state-managed law enforcement agencies to update their use of force policies, but this is only the beginning. We must remain resolved in addressing the systemic racism and inequities Black Wisconsinites face every day and to continuing our work toward a just, equitable, and fair state.”
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