KENOSHA — A number of people set up tables, tents, activities and more in Kenosha’s Civic Center Park on Sunday. Gina Walkington was one of them, pitching a tent with fellow Kenosha resident Brian Little.
The reason she was there? The same as everyone else: To mark 30 days since Jacob Blake was shot.
“I wanted to help strengthen the call for something to be done,” Walkington said.
A Justice For Jacob: Seize The Day 24 Hour Rally was held Sunday at the park, 900 57th St., Kenosha, starting at noon and is scheduled to go until Monday at noon.
Attendees came to rally for 24 hours to demand Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey be fired and indicted; transparency and accountability of city officials and the Wisconsin Department of Justice; and reforms in the community to eliminate police violence and systemic racism.
Attendees could register to vote at one of several tables set up. Speeches and prayers were given by local religious leaders. Some activists, mental health experts, doctors and therapists spoke out on discrimination and other topics.
“We’re going to talk about anything and everything that we need to see change,” said Erica Ness, director of community engagement with African Emergency Relief Foundation, which organized the event. “We’re here to stay and we’re going to keep going.”
Planned activities included a cookout, music from a live band, DJs, a line dance, Target product giveaways, yoga, guided meditation, painting and more. Rally attendees pitched several tents Sunday in anticipation of sleeping there overnight.
‘We’re going to be relentless’
Justin Blake, Jacob’s uncle, also was a rally organizer. He said that he’s in charge of making sure the Blake family is interlocked with organizations and citizens of Kenosha.
“Their police officers are not acting on their behalf,” he said. “We’re going to be relentless.”
Justin Blake said the 24-hour rally was his idea: “I try to come up with creative things. We had a block party; what’s next that we can keep people interested about the story about little Jake and how he needs justice? We’re pulling all the stops out.”
Additionally, the Blake family is planning on hosting a march from Kenosha to Milwaukee on Oct. 20.
“We’re going to keep doing things,” Justin Blake said. “We need unity around the red, black and green and we need a concept of pulling everybody together. We need to agree to disagree and keep things moving. This isn’t just about little Jake. This is about all the little Jakes around the nation, around the world.”
Elizabeth Webb, a Kenosha resident, set up a tent Sunday because she planned to stay the full 24 hours. She attended to encourage community members to take part, vote in the upcoming election and be aware of events happening in their city.
“We’re trying to rebuild this city, and we’re trying to start from the inside out,” Webb said. “I’ve put myself on the forefront, on the line. Whatever our community is doing, I want to be a part of.”
Jacob Blake is a neighbor to Webb’s mother. Webb’s 20-year-old son saw Blake get shot.
“It was pretty traumatizing for him and me as a Black mom,” Webb said.
She and her partner also started United Black and Brown Men and Women of Kenosha. Webb is hoping that as a result of the rally, Kenosha officials will prosecute Sheskey.
“It’s a miracle that he’s (Jacob Blake) not dead,” Webb said.
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