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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Drive launched to help shooting victim, family with long-term care bills

MILWAUKEE—Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the organization co-founded and first led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., announced today that the Atlanta-based civil rights organization will lead a campaign to help the family of Jacob Blake secure support for his long term recovery and care. 

Dr. Steele made the announcement after a meeting with Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Jr., and other family members at a location in Wauwatosa, a city just west of Milwaukee, where the younger Blake is in a hospital receiving treatment. Family members have traveled to the Milwaukee area from other regions of the country after receiving news last Sunday of Jacob Blake III being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, a city of approximately 100,000 residents about one hour south of Milwaukee.

Blake, 29, is African American and the unjustified shooting has left him paralyzed. The officer is white and has been placed on leave from the department. The shooting has led to numerous protests around the nation. The father said the family is receiving overwhelming support from Americans to get them from day to day, but now the family is concerned about his son’s long-term recovery after his release from the hospital.

“As the president and CEO of the SCLC, and in the spirit of our founder, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am here with Mr. Blake to let him and his family know that the SCLC will lead a campaign to secure support for your son’s long term care,” said Dr. Steele during the Saturday afternoon meeting with the father and family.

After a telephone conversation earlier in the week, Dr. Steele said he traveled to the Milwaukee area to personally meet with the father to determine the son’s needs.

During the Wauwatosa meeting, the father informed Dr. Steele that the family, which includes 14 other siblings, need about $20,000 to address immediate needs around care and support. Many family members, he said, are in the Milwaukee area staying close to provide comfort to his son, but also to seek justice in the case. The father, who currently lives in Charlotte, said there is no way he can return home. He needs all the support he can get to stay by his son’s side.

“We are going to deal with the here and now and the realness of what is going on, and we are not going to deal with God’s dealings, because God does not have you speculating; so there is no need for us to speculate,” the father told Dr. Steele, noting he has no option but to provide love and care for his son. “My son has suffered so much damage to his vertebrae. It is blown out. The reality is you do not recover from the vertebrae being blown out. But I have my son, and at this moment, I do not care about anything else. If you could have felt the way he held my hand, that is all I need. When he squeezes my hand, he knows I love him.”

Dr. Steele said the SCLC was moved to address the Blakes’ appeal for support because the family has a longstanding history with the SCLC. The father’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., was an influential minister from Evanston, IL, who was active in the SCLC when Dr. King was alive.

“This is a selling point where we must all come together to assure and ensure that this great family will not be left alone in addressing this challenge,” Dr. Steele told the father. “I commit myself and the SCLC to standing with the family to make sure they get what is needed for your son’s long-term care. That is the least we can do for our brothers and sisters whose families have been linked to the struggle to end racism and poverty.”

The father responded that “The Blake family most humbly and graciously accepts this support from the SCLC, an organization I have been familiar with since I was child. I looked up to the leaders then and I look up to them now, and it gives me comfort knowing they will be working on our behalf. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. My son and his mother thank you, and we appreciate this from the bottom of our hearts.”

Dr. Steele said the campaign will include raising funds for the Blakes, who will need money to provide long-term medical treatment and support for their son as well as support for the caregivers who will have to be by his son’s side around the clock.