Families of Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake hold Evanston rally and encourage people to vote

“Every vote counts, every vote matters, we don’t just need people to register, we need them to go vote,” Justin Blake said. “This is about human rights, and we’re going to drive that point home today.”

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About 200 demonstrators march Saturday in Evanston at a rally for racial justice and to show their support for the families of Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.

About 200 demonstrators march Saturday in Evanston at a rally for racial justice and to show their support for the families of Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A day after a Kentucky court released recordings from grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case, family members of Taylor and Jacob Blake hosted a rally Saturday afternoon in Evanston to call for justice and encourage people to hit the polls.

Taylor’s aunt, Bianca Austin, linked arms with Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., as they led a group of about 200 people on a half-mile march on Emerson Street in the north suburb.

“These people need to start being held accountable for killing our kids, and we’re sick of it,” Austin told attendees during her speech while wearing her niece’s emergency medicine technician jacket. “So, we’re gonna demand change and we need y’all to vote. And we need you to come out here and stand with us, and fight these people because we can’t do it by ourselves.”

Breonna Taylor’s aunt, Bianca Austin, attends a rally for racial justice Saturday in Evanston.

Breonna Taylor’s aunt, Bianca Austin, attends a rally for racial justice Saturday in Evanston.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Before the march, volunteers helped attendees register to vote as they gathered outside Jacob Blake Manor, which provides housing for low-income seniors and is named after Blake’s grandfather.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Bobby Rush, D-Ill., were among the attendees at the event. All three voiced support of the Taylor and Blake families and called on people to vote.

“We’re not going to give up, we’re going to fight,” Jackson said. “We’re going to vote [and turn our] pain to passion.”

The rally came just one day after Kentucky’s attorney general released recordings of a Louisville grand jury’s proceedings in the Taylor case and eight days after a grand jury indicted one of the three officers involved in the botched drug raid that led to the death of Taylor.

Fired Louisville Police Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid of Taylor’s home on the night of March 13.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (left); Breonna Taylor’s aunt, Bianca Austin; and the Rev. Jesse Jackson (right) attend a rally for racial justice and equality where hundreds called for justice for Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor Saturday in Evanston.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (left); Breonna Taylor’s aunt, Bianca Austin; and the Rev. Jesse Jackson (right) attend a rally for racial justice and equality where hundreds called for justice for Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor Saturday in Evanston.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Jacob Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, stressed that voting in November could lead to change, and said it was “foolishness” to say that a person’s vote doesn’t matter.

“Every vote counts, every vote matters, we don’t just need people to register, we need them to go vote,” Justin Blake said. “This is about us standing up for what is right. This isn’t about Black or white, Democrat or Republican. This is about human rights, and we’re going to drive that point home today.”

Demonstrators chanted and carried signs down Emerson Street before stopping outside Ebenezer-Primm Towers, another site for low-income senior housing founded by Jacob Blake’s grandfather. Along the route, people came out of their homes and businesses to cheer them on.

Jacob Blake Sr. got emotional when he provided an update on his son, who’s been paralyzed from the waist down since Kenosha police officers shot him seven times in August. Jacob Blake Sr. said his son goes to physical therapy at least three times a day and said is still in “incredible” pain.

“Stand for my son because he cannot stand, walk for my son because he cannot walk — understand that we need to change laws,” Blake Sr. said. “Will that evil away because love will show you the way. Love is what we need, we don’t need hatred… We’re tired; this is enough. Enough is enough.”

Jacob Blake Sr. marches Saturday during a rally for racial justice in Evanston.

Jacob Blake Sr. marches Saturday during a rally for racial justice in Evanston.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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