Activists demand justice for Jacob Blake

Hundreds rallied against police brutality and systemic racism on Friday.

A’Brianna Morgan, an organizer with Reclaim Philadelphia, raises her fist in the air during a speech at Dilworth Park. | ALLIE IPPOLITO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

On Friday, hundreds gathered in front of City Hall to rally for Justice for Jacob Blake and All Victims of Police Terror to condemn the shooting of Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In a viral video on Aug. 23, Blake, a 29-year-old Kenosha resident, was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey, after walking away from police, the Wall Street Journal reported

Police were dispatched after a caller reported trespassing, CBS News reported. Blake was attempting to resolve a domestic dispute, according to Blake’s family attorney Benjamin Crump.

During the altercation, officers attempted to arrest and taser Blake. After he walked away, Sheskey grabbed him and fired his service weapon into his back, according to a press release by the Wisconsin Department of Justice

In a video published on Crump’s Twitter on Sept. 5, Blake spoke about the incident from his hospital bed.

“Your life, and not only just your life, your legs, something that you need to move around and forward in life, can be taken from you like this,” Blake said in the video. 

The Wisconsin DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Wisconsin State Patrol and Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office have launched an investigation into the shooting. 

Sheskey has been placed on administrative leave, the Washington Post reported.

The shooting sparked protests and rallies in Kenosha and nationwide to demand justice against police brutality and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. This comes after a summer of ongoing protests against systemic racism stemming from George Floyd’s Memorial day killing in Minneapolis, Minnesota after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Friday’s rally, hosted by the Philadelphia branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, began at 5 p.m. in front of Dilworth Park. 

Jack Fletcher, a junior legal studies major and co-founder of Temple University’s Coalition for Change, went to show his support.

“The more voices that are at each of these events, the stronger the call for justice will be,” Fletcher said.

The rally was endorsed by several organizations, like the coalition, the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, Reclaim Philadelphia, Black Lives Matter Philly and Sunrise Movement Temple University. Attendees gathered along the intersection of 15th and Market streets to hear from speakers.

A’Brianna Morgan, the lead mass liberation organizer for Reclaim Philadelphia, a grassroots, democratic organization, gave a speech about her experiences with racism growing up and hearing about the murders of Black people in the United States.

“I realized I will never be safe in this country,” Morgan said. “Black people will never be safe. What’s worse is that even when we’re murdered, white people are going to dig into our past to find any shred of evidence to paint us as criminals and justify our deaths. Black people who have done illegal shit or caused harm deserve to live just as much as anybody else.”

Afterward, the rally turned into a march down Market Street to the Philadelphia Police Department headquarters on Franklin and Race streets before returning to City Hall and ending at 7:30 p.m.

Heather Marshall, a senior graphic design major and member of Sunrise Movement Temple University, a climate justice student organization, went to the rally.

“We want equality for all,” Marshall said. “We have this huge momentum going on, tons of class solidarity among a variety of different people, and it’s important to take advantage of this and show our power.”

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