Hours after Jacob Blake was shot Sunday, he looked at his mother in a Milwaukee hospital room, cried and told her he was sorry.
“I don’t want to be a burden on anybody. I want my babies. Call my boss,” Julia Jackson recalls her son telling her. She comforted him and had to redirect the conversation, Jackson told CNN’s Don Lemon Tuesday night.
That’s just the kind of man Blake’s family says he is. He’s a father, a son, an uncle and a brother who’s focused on his loved ones, his sister says.
“His kids are his world. But not only that, his family is his world,” Zietha Blake says. “He’s upset because we’re hurt, we’re upset. He doesn’t even care about himself. He’s more so worried about us.”
Jackson is a mother who believes in the power of prayer and forgiveness. Despite the agony that comes with knowing her son was shot in the back by a police officer, she prayed with another police officer in the hospital.
After demonstrators torched cars and set buildings ablaze on Monday night, Blake’s mother called for peaceful protests and said her son would not be pleased with “the violence and the destruction.”
Jackson says the damage in the city from the unrest “doesn’t reflect my son or my family.”
She asked for prayers not only for her son but for healing across the country.
Blake’s family is rooted in a legacy of activism and devotion.
Before he became the latest in a long list of police shooting victims, the 29-year-old was a kid growing up in Evanston, Illinois, just outside Chicago.
He attended high school in Evanston, where he was a member of the wrestling team. He later moved to Kenosha “for a fresh start,” his family told CNN affiliate WLS.
His grandfather, the Rev. Jacob Blake Sr., led the fight for fair housing in Evanston throughout the 1960s and ’70s and led the Ebenezer AME Church congregation. He organized marches following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that eventually led Evanston City Council members to ban racial discrimination in housing.
“We the members of Ebenezer AME, were quite distressed to hear the news about Jacob Blake,” the church that his grandfather pastored said in a statement after news of Blake’s shooting became public.
“It is also disturbing that this action was taken without regard for his children that witnessed this egregious and callous action.”
In between tears during a news conference Tuesday, another of his sisters, Megan Belcher, called Jacob Blake her light.
“I’m not crying because I’m sad, I’m crying because I know how upset he is that his family’s upset right now,” she says. “Because his family is hurting. He loves his family. You all took him from his family, as you all stood by and let it happen.”
Family attorneys say Jacob Blake is paralyzed and loved ones are hoping that he can walk again.
Zietha Blake, another sister, recounted how close the two were growing up, calling him her twin. Almost every night, Zietha said she and Blake would call each other, just to joke around.
“We got a lot of insiders, a lot of things just between us, because we are like this,” she said, holding up crossed fingers.
Video shows the shooting
On Sunday evening, Blake was on a Kenosha street lined with apartment buildings. He was “breaking up a fight between two women,” said Benjamin Crump, an attorney hired by the family.
Kenosha police arrived, responding to a domestic incident, police said.
Raysean White was across the street and said he heard two women arguing when Blake arrived. He said he doesn’t know what started the altercation.
White was filming the incident when Blake walked away, toward the driver’s side of his car, and opened the door. In video that’s now been seen millions of times — more than 9 million views from Crump’s Twitter feed alone — police are seen closely following Blake and shooting him seven times in the back as he leans into the car.
Blake did not have a weapon in his car, said Patrick Salvi Jr., another attorney representing the family.
In the vehicle were his three sons, ages 3, 5 and 8, Crump said. CNN has not independently confirmed this.
Blake is now in a Milwaukee hospital, where he has remained in intensive care. As of Tuesday afternoon, he was undergoing surgery, Crump said.
“It’s going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr. to ever walk again,” he said.
Blake suffered multiple injuries, including a gunshot wound to one arm, damage to his kidney, liver and spinal cord, said Salvi Jr.
“He had a bullet go through some or all of his spinal cord, at least one bullet. He has holes in his stomach. He had to have nearly his entire colon and small intestines removed,” Salvi added, saying the family will file a civil lawsuit against the police department over the shooting.
Jacob Blake is suffering from paralysis from the waist down, his father, Jacob Sr., told CNN, but he wasn’t sure if the condition is permanent.
“Thank God he’s alive,” Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, told CNN. “We’re just praying for a great recovery, that he may have a great quality of life and that his father, my brother, can enjoy him.”