United States: 'We don't want pity, we want change' says Jacob Blake's sister

August 28, 2020

“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' and most importantly make sure you say 'human',” urged Letetra Widman the older sister of Blake, an unarmed Black man who was shot in the back seven times by police on August 23 in the small United States city of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The horrific shooting was filmed and by now will probably have been seen by most people around the world. Blake's children were in the car he was entering when he was shot.

The shooting sparked a new wave of mass protests and the biggest sports strike ever in the US but also the murder of two protesters by a young white man who was part of a group of gun-carrying vigilantes who attacked protesters.

CommonDreams reported on the August 24 racist vigilante killing: “Some commentators noted that several police officers had previously engaged a group of armed men in a seemingly friendly conversation, in stark contrast to the tense clashes with protesters earlier Tuesday night. In the video, police officers in armoured trucks can be heard saying, 'We appreciate you guys, we really do', to a group of self-styled militia members.”

Blake, who underwent emergency surgery, may never walk again but meanwhile US President Donald Trump's son Eric rushed to condemn the protests and his father sent in federal law enforcement officers to quell the protests.

The Trump administration has been framing the Black Lives Matter uprising as a “threat to law and order”, as a conspiracy by the “radical left” to “create absolute anarchy”.

It has blatantly encouraged far-right movements and made barely-veiled threats to mobilise them into revolt, should Trump lose the presidential election. The violent attacks on BLM protests by armed, white right-wingers underscores that threat.

“Just like every single one of you, we're human,” said Widman. “His life matters!

“So many people have reached out to me saying they are sorry this has happened to my family. Well, don't be sorry, because this has been happening to my family for a long time — longer than I can account for.

“It happened to Emmett Till. Emmett Till is my family,” she said.

Till was a 14-year-old boy who was kidnapped, tortured and lynched by racists in Mississippi on August 28, 1955. No one has been punished for this crime and not a cent of compensation has been paid. Two white men who later confessed to murdering Till were acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury.

Philando [Castile], Mike Brown, Sandra [Bland], this has been happening to my family. I shed tears for every single one of these people that it’s happened to.

"This is nothing new. I'm not sad. I'm not sorry. I'm angry and I'm tired," Widman said.

"I have not cried one time. I stopped crying years ago. I'm numb. I have been watching police murder people who look like me for years.

“I'm also a Black history minor. So not only have I been watching it during the 30 years I have been on this planet, but I have been watching for years before we've been alive,” she said.

"I don't want your pity, I want change."

Widman's words are a powerful spur to the global Black Lives Matter movement. It's not over, not until there is justice and real change.

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