As 29-year-old Jacob Blake remains in the hospital following a police shooting that has left him paralyzed from the waist down, his older sister, Letetra Widman, gave a powerful address. Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Wideman offered solemn condemnation of the violence Black Americans have faced for years, even before her brother was shot in the back seven times by Officer Rusten Sheskey.
1/This is Jacob Blake's sister Letetra Widman. Here is her powerful statement.
"I am my brother's keeper." pic.twitter.com/UM4kKzAbR1— Maya Contreras (@mayatcontreras) August 25, 2020
"I am my brother's keeper," Wideman began the powerful address. "And 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, but most importantly make sure you say human. Human life. Let it marinate in your mind. A human life... We're human, and his life matters."
Wideman went on to note that "so many people" have reached out to her in the days since the Sunday incident "saying they're sorry that this has been happening to my family." She said, "don't be sorry," acknowledging that "this has been happening to my family for a long time, longer than I can account for." Wideman noted that prior to her brother, "it happened to Emmett Till, Emmett Till is my family. It happened to Philando, Mike Brown, Sandra." She said that she has "shed tears for every single one of these people that it's happened to."
"I'm not sad, I'm not sorry, I'm angry. And I'm tired. I haven't cried one time. I stopped crying years ago. I am numb," she continued. "I have been watching police murder people that look like me for years. I'm also a Black history minor, so not only have I been watching it in the 30 years that I've been on this planet, but I've been watching it for years before we were even alive. I'm not sad. I don't want your pity. I want change."
Wideman powerful speech came just days after national outrage was sparked in response to her brother’s shooting. According to a Wednesday release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation, the shooting occurred after officers were dispatched to the scene for a domestic incident. Once they arrived, they attempted to arrest Blake, who "walked around his vehicle, opened the driver's side door, and leaned forward." Sheskey, the officer formally identified, fired his weapon seven times into Blake’s back as three of his six sons, ages 3, 5, and 8, were in the vehicle.
A GoFundMe has since been created to cover Blake's medical expenses. He has remained in the hospital since Sunday and recently underwent surgery. It is unknown if his paralysis is permanent.