200 Attend Evanston Service For Jacob Blake, Condemn Police Brutality

Evanston police Chief Demitrous Cook
Evanston police Chief Demitrous Cook addresses nearly 200 people during a service on Sunday honoring Jacob Blake. Michael Puente / WBEZ
Evanston police Chief Demitrous Cook
Evanston police Chief Demitrous Cook addresses nearly 200 people during a service on Sunday honoring Jacob Blake. Michael Puente / WBEZ

200 Attend Evanston Service For Jacob Blake, Condemn Police Brutality

Arlene Bell and Jacob Blake share a lot in common.

They are both from Evanston and have a connection to Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Evanston.

That church’s one-time pastor was Blake’s grandfather who shares the same name. Bell attends that church.

Bell also has a son about the same age as the 29-year-old Blake, who was shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisc., on Aug. 23.

Bell doesn’t know Blake but attended a Sunday afternoon service to denounce police brutality.

“It could have been my son,” said Bell following the service in the parking lot of Evanston’s Farmer’s Market which attracted some 200 people. “Every day my son walks out the door, it could be him.”

Kenosha police office shot Blake while responding to a domestic abuse call. The incident, and its aftermath, has attracted international attention.

It’s the latest shooting or serious injury of a Black person at the hands of police which have resulted in protests across the nation, sometimes followed by civil disobedience.

Bell says police need to stop looking at all Black people as a threat.

‘Not every Black young man is bad,” Bell said. “Not every young Black man has intentions to do bad things.

Rev. Martha Holmes, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church of Christ in Evanston, told those gathered that seeking justice must be the universal pursuit of every person.

“We can’t and will not progress or move forward until we holistically address and put to rest all facets of inequity and injustice,” Holmes said.

Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook also attended the event.

“I honored to be there today, number one, to give condolences to the Blake family,” Cook said. “I’ve known them my whole career here. I’ve known Jacob Jr. since he was a little baby.”

While some have defended the actions of the responding officer in Kenosha, Cook said law enforcement needs to change its approach.

“It’s time for change in law enforcement. I’ve said this over and over again. … You don’t have to be Black to understand that,” Cook said. “It’s time to do better. It’s time to get rid of the cops that don’t want to play ball our way.”

Evanston resident Rhonda Goldstein also has a connection to Blake. She said her son went to school with him.

She said it’s unfortunate that Blake is the latest example of police brutality.

“But it’s not just him. He’s a symbol for the oppression in our country and this has got to stop,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein says she’s worried about plans for President Trump to visit Kenosha on Tuesday.

“He’s going to rile people up and it’s going to be all about law and order. He’s going to get people all antagonistic,” Goldstein said. “He should not be going.”

It’s in Kenosha where 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch allegedly shot three people on one of the nights of civil unrest last week, killing two of them. Rittenhouse is in police custody in Lake County, Ill., awaiting extradition on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide.

Michael Puente covers Northwest Indiana for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter @MikePuenteNews.