Opinion: Should Jacob Blake be a living martyr?
In the wake of protests surrounding the recent killings of African-Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, the shooting of Jacob Blake only added fuel to the fire of racial justice protests. But Blake should not be praised as a living martyr for the movement toward racial equality.
On Aug. 23, police officers shot 29-year-old, African American, father-of-six Jacob Blake seven times. Blake was shot after a call about his being on the property of an unidentified woman who had filed sexual assault and trespassing charges against him. After two tasers failed to stop Blake, he was shot seven times in the back upon opening the door of his car and reaching for a knife in the floorboard. He is alive but currently in a hospital and paralyzed from the waist down.
Although what happened to Blake was horrific, the calls for racial justice should not use his incident as part of their grievances or arguments. He should not join the list of martyrs that are currently the faces of the Black Lives Matter movement. George Floyd is a valid example of police brutality after losing his life over being arrested for a counterfeit $20 bill. Ahmaud Arbery is a valid example of vile and murderous racism still held by some. These victims should be the faces of racial injustice present in the United States, not Jacob Blake.
Mentioning Blake’s situation hinders racial progress because he is not a direct victim of police brutality. He was at the property of a woman whom he allegedly sexually assaulted several times along with trespassing on her property. He also continued to disregard police orders after being tased twice, and he reached for a knife in the floorboard of his car, which could have endangered the lives of the officers responding to the call. He even received immediate medical help after the shooting by the policemen, which ultimately saved his life.
If the recent protests want to make change, their arguments should be clear of fallacious instances that do not support their cause. The example of evidence from Blake’s incident does not support the case of total victimhood and oppression, as he was not a direct victim of inherent racism without cause.
The fight for racial equality has taken front and center of the national discourse on what must be done over the recent months, with many controversial but necessary changes. Never before has there been more evidence of racism resulting in loss of Black lives. The movement toward racial justice has gained martyrs they can use to defend their position and provide a face to their protest. Jacob Blake should not be recognized among these faces of the Black Lives Matter protest as a living martyr. Blake was an armed man with a warrant for trespassing on the alleged victim’s property and refused to surrender to police. He does not serve as an example of racism that can further protests, although the fight for racial equality should rally around other tragedies instead.
Keaton Browder is an Opinion Writer.