As protests continue to rage across Wisconsin and other parts of the country in the wake of her brother's shooting, Jacob Blake's older sister delivered a powerful speech surrounded by her weeping family. "I am numb," she told reporters, "I have been watching police murder people that look like me for years."
On Sunday, Jacob Blake was shot several times in the back by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The police shooting of the young Black man was caught on video and spread across social media, sparking outrage and protests across the state and country. Blake's attorney Ben Crump told CNN that the shooting was the result of Blake trying to stop a domestic dispute and ended with police officers shooting him in the back as he tried to enter his vehicle, where the 29-year-old's three small children witnessed the incident.
Three days after the shooting, Blake's family gathered for a press conference. His father Jacob Blake Sr. told reporters in Kenosha on Wednesday that his son, who survived the shooting, might not walk again because the bullets had severed his spinal cord and left him paralyzed from the waist down. Blake's mother Julia Jackson addressed the destruction caused by protesters. "As I was riding through here, through this city, I noticed a lot of damage that doesn't reflect my son or my family," she said. "If Jacob knew what was going on as far as that goes, the violence and the destruction, he would be very unpleased." Both parents wept. His entire family wept over the tragic event.
Except for his sister Letetra Widman, who gave perhaps the most powerful speech of all. "I am my brother's keeper," Widman began. "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 mouth; in your minds. A human life. Just like every single one of y'all. We are human, and his life matters."
Widman went on to say that people had been reaching out to tell her they were sorry for what happened to her family, but that's not what she wants to hear. Widman said she didn't want people to "be sorry, because this has been happening to my family for a long time." She added, "It happened to Emmett Till. Emmett Till is my family."
Emmett Till was the 14-year-old boy who was shot in the head in Money, Mississippi in 1955 after a white woman named Carolyn Bryant said he whistled at her at a grocery story. Her husband Roy Bryant kidnapped Till and shot him along with his half-brother J.W. Milam, according to Biography.com. They were acquitted of the crime by an all-white, all-male jury.
Widman mentioned other Black victims of systemic racism in her speech, including Philando Castile, Mike Brown, and Sandra Bland. "This is nothing new. I'm not sad, I'm not sorry. I'm angry, and I'm tired," Widman said. "I haven't cried one time. I stopped crying years ago. I am numb. I have been watching police murder people that look like me for years. I'm not sad, I don't want your pity. I want change."