Several hundred people gathered in the farmers market parking lot on University Place in Evanston this afternoon to attend a community service for Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old former Evanston resident who was shot a week ago by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The event was organized by Ebenezer AME Church, which was once led by Blake’s grandfather, also named Jacob Blake.
Church member Gerri Sizemore said, “The Blake family was very, very important to Evanston.” Stephanie Saunders said the elder Blake “was my pastor when I was 11. I marched with him for fair housing in Evanston. It was right after Martin Luther King was assassinated”.
Sizemore said she and Saunders were “here for justice”. Saunders said, “We should not think this is normal. This is not normal. This should not happen to anyone.” Blake was left partially paralyzed by the shooting and remains hospitalized.
The Rev. Deborah Scott, Ebenezer’s pastor, told Evanston Now, “Today is dedicated for us to come together to grieve, but it is still a call to action.”
She told the crowd, “We are gathered here to remind ourselves and others about human dignity. Every human being is to be treated with respect.”
She said, “We continue to pray for” Jacob Blake, the Blake family and the protesters who were killed in Kenosha.
Police Chief Demitrous Cook said, “It’s time for a change in law enforcement. I’ve said that over and over and over again.”
He said, “The public are the police and the police are the public. It’s time to be serious and have sincere perseverance to bring about meaningful change for our society.”
He then had to pause for several moments before he could continue speaking. A person in the crowd yelled “It’s OK, Chief” to encourage him. Cook then added, “It’s time to do better.” Evanston Police “do a good job and I’m going to continue to work with them to do a better job.”
Mayor Steve Hagerty said, “As elected officials, we are here to pray with you and to say ‘enough.’”
He encouraged the crowd to “Vote. Vote like our lives and loves depend on it.”