KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS) — A week after saying it would take a “miracle” for Jacob Blake to walk again, after the 29-year-old Black man was shot in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, his family said they’re still holding out hope he will make a full recovery.
“We’re asking the country and the world to pray for a full recovery. Why ask for half a prayer? We’re going to ask for it all. We want to see little Jake walk out of there,” said his uncle, Justin Blake, as President Donald Trump was on his way to visit Kenosha.
Mr. Trump was in Kenosha on Tuesday to tour the widespread damage from the weeklong civil unrest that broke out after Blake was shot. While Trump did not meet with Blake or his family, he met with local police to thank them for their service during widespread protests and civil unrest. He also took part in a roundtable discussion on Wisconsin community safety.
The president said Monday he was not meeting with the Blake family because they wanted to involve lawyers, but Justin Blake said they haven’t had any contact with the White House.
“Whatever they’re talking about is a ruse, and that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing today, so they can’t take over the narrative. We’re going to keep things on Jacob Blake getting justice, and healing little Jake,” Justin Blake said.
Asked if there’s anything he would have wanted to say to Trump if the president did visit with the family, Justin Blake said, “We don’t have any words for the orange man.”
“All I ask is that he keep his disrespect, his foul language away from our family. We need a president that’s going to unite our country, and take us in a different direction,” he added.
Uncle Asked about Jacob’s condition:
He can reach out and touch and hold his mother still paralyzed from waist down..getting his personality back #JacobBlake
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) September 1, 2020
Justin Blake said his nephew is improving as he recovers at a hospital in Milwaukee, but he remains paralyzed from the waist down.
“He’s starting to slowly but surely get his vibrance back. He’s able to reach out and hold and touch his mother, and talk to his father. He’s still in severe pain, and still paralyzed from the waist down, after being shot seven times in the back,” he said. “Who could survive that? And that he has his personality coming back, that’s the start of his recovery.”
Justin Blake also repeated the family’s demand that the officer who shot Blake – identified as Officer Rusten Sheskey – be indicted on criminal charges.
“We want an indictment immediately. It shouldn’t take this long. Our family’s pressing for indictment, and we’re not leaving the Kenosha area until we get it,” he said.
While the president is in Kenosha, Blake’s family took part in a community service event in the neighborhood where Blake was shot.
Community leaders provided services like free COVID-19 testing, help with filling out Census forms, voter registration assistance, and even community clean-up.
“Jacob Blake was gunned down here 10 days ago. Why are we still here? It’s not to protest. It’s to ensure that there’s a message that goes around Kenosha, and to send a message that this cannot keep happening,” said lead organizer Rev. Greg Drumwright.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, the event was also a block party that amounted to a display of a community and family beginning to heal – with a bouncy house, a DJ, and hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. It was all an effort to continue peaceful calls for justice.
“To see everyone come together – it’s a beautiful thing,” said organizer Debbie Lang. “But I hate it had to come to this.”
Lang also expressed disapproval at President Trump’s presence.
“He’s going to make trouble. We don’t need that,” Lang said. “Everybody, everything has slowed down and, and he’s going to come and wake it all back up. We don’t need him here.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson said Blake’s family and their supporters would not be protesting on Tuesday.
“We won’t be used as a commercial for Trump’s visit,” he said.
Jackson also criticized Trump for declining to denounce 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen charged with killing two people during protests in Kenosha. Trump has suggested Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense.
“He’s given inspiration to the militia. The militia gains strength from his words. He’s offered little consolation to the two young men who got killed, and he should,” Jackson said.
While Blake’s family said they won’t be demonstrating on Tuesday, other activists continued to take to the streets in Kenosha.
Black Lives Matter activists and pro-Trump groups faced off at Civic Center Park in Kenosha on Tuesday, yelling at each other ahead of the president’s visit.
Justin Blake said he hopes those who do continue protesting in Kenosha keep their demonstrations peaceful.
“We understand you’re angry and upset, and we could see why you would want to burn something down, but we’re asking you not to. That fist that you put up in anger, we’re asking to raise up high in unity, and come on board with the Blakes. We’re going to make some big changes that affect all the little Jakes around this nation,” he said.
Late Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Justice released new information into the scope of the investigation of the Jacob Blake shooting.
The state DOJ said it has interviewed 88 people so far, issued four search warrants, and downloaded 28 videos – including the video that shows the moment Blake was shot.
Three officers, including Sheskey, have been placed on administrative leave.
CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar contributed to this report.