Jacob Blake Hearing – January 25, 2021, 9 am Eastern

Content note: This hearing contains evidence that is graphic in nature, including the video evidence of the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Transcript: Hearing on the Case of Jacob Blake

SPEAKERS

  • Rapporteur Ria Julien
  • Commissioner Ms. Hina Jilani
  • Commissioner Prof. Niloufer Bhagwat
  • Benjamin Crump, attorney for Jacob Blake
  • Jasmine Rand, attorney for Jacob Blake
  • Video audio of Jacob Blake interview on Good Morning America

Ria Julien  00:18

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the hearings of the International Commission of Inquiry on systemic racist police violence against people of African descent in the United States.These hearings are a process by which witnesses can present accounts of the unjustified killings and maimings of Black people, by police officers in the United States, before an international panel of human rights experts. We now begin the hearing in the case of Jacob Blake.

My name is Ria Julien and I am the rapporteur for this hearing. Presiding over this hearing today is Commissioner Niloufer Bhagwat of India and Commissioner Hina Jilani of Pakistan. The witnesses for this hearing today are Ben Crump and Jasmine Rand, attorneys Ben Crump and Jasmine Rand. There will be 50 minutes for this hearing. Witnesses will testify followed by a period of questions from commissioners. I will call time at the 30 minute mark and the 45 minute mark, please excuse my interruptions. Commissioners Bhagwat and Jilani I now present to you the first the witnesses, who will, who will be presenting together. That is,  attorneys Ben Crump and Jasmine Rand. I will swear in the witnesses at this time. Attorney Ben Crump, please confirm your name.

Benjamin Crump  01:45

Attorney Benjamin Crump.

Ria Julien  01:48

Do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

Benjamin Crump  01:55

Yes, it will.

Ria Julien  01:58

Attorney Jasmine Rand, please confirm your name.

Jasmine Rand  02:02

My name is attorney Jasmine Rand.

Ria Julien  02:04

Do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

Jasmine Rand  02:10

Yes, it will.

Ria Julien  02:11

You may both begin.

Benjamin Crump  02:14

Good morning. I’m attorney Ben Crump, the lead counsel for the family of Jacob Blake Jr. Along with attorney Jasmine Rand, Attorney B’Ivory LaMarr and attorney Pat Salvi II.  On August 23, 2020. Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back as he retreated from the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with his back turned. This excessive use of force on this African American young man followed the tragic killings in 2020 of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, and George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The kill – the shooting of Jacob Blake was captured on cell phone video. And it presented a another prominent example of how there are two systems of justice in America, one that governs Black America, and another that governs white America. Jacob Jr. was not armed with a gun of any type. As he retreated from the police, he had a small two inch knife in his hand. Now, what is significant about that is he never once posed a threat or any violence or any suggestion that he was trying to attack the police in any way. As many African Americans in the United States, he tried to avoid police. And in fact, he was trying to get away from the police from everything that is demonstrated on the video. Not what anybody says, but what we see with our own eyes. And as he was retreating, trying to get in his car to get his three little boys out of a volatile situation. The police grabbed his t shirt and shot him seven times, point blank range in the back with deliberate indifference as to whether he lived or died because, common sense will tell you, even though we have all kinds of medical documentation, common sense will tell you that you have deliberate indifference as to whether a human being will live or die when you shoot at them point blank range seven times in the back.

All seven bullets went into Jacob Blake’s body and left him paralyzed from the waist down. On top of this incredible physical tragedy was the mental anguish, not only for Jacob Blake Jr, but for his little boys who were sitting in the backseat of the car, who witnessed their father being shot and paralyzed by the police at the time, they all believed that he would die. Jacob Blake told his two boys that were in the car with him, no matter what Daddy loves you. He thought that would be his final words on this earth. Jacob Blake Jr. fortunately lived. And because he live he’s able to tell. Most African Americans who have been shot by police do not survive.

Tragically, Jacob Blake represents the disproportionality of the excessive force that are used on African Americans on a continuous and systematic basis. And what is as important as the excessive force itself is the aftermath of the injustice. The fact that our court systems often engage in the intellectual justification of discrimination. A document in my book, Legalized Genocide of Colored People, that police –  the court system often do not hold law enforcement officers accountable for the excessive use of force on Black people in America. Kenosha was so graphic because within 48 hours, we saw with our own eyes on video both times how the two systems of justice operate. Kyle Rittenhouse, a young white man, 48 hours after Jacob Blake was shot by the Kenosha police department was demonstrating his right to the Second Amendment. And he engaged protesters that were standing up for justice for Jacob Blake Jr. He shot three of them, killing two of them. And then this young white man walked down the street with an assault weapon hanging from his neck. He passed several national guards and several police officers and no one shot him in the back. No one killed him and no one arrested him. Nobody saw, none of those police officers saw him as a threat, even though he had just shot three people killing two of them. Now just to pose that with Jacob Blake Jr. This young Black man who did not kill anybody, did not injure anybody and did not engage in a threat of violence to the police, he was seen as a threat, as he was walking away from the police. The young white man was walking towards the police with an assault weapon.

And there lies the crux of the matter. It is almost as if our skin color is seen as a weapon to have some imaginary fear and police to justify the continuous excessive use of force and the killing of Black people in America. Finally, before I have attorney Rand speak to you, I would be remiss if I did not speak on the fact that when you look at the video of Jacob Blake, George Floyd and so many other African Americans who have been killed, brutalized by police, argue that they’re two justice systems in America, from Trayvon Martin all the way up to George Floyd, Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor. But when you witness what happened on January 6 2021, you don’t have to rely on my words, we have prima facie evidence of the two justice systems that exist in America. And if a picture’s worth 1000 words, then the video from January 6 2021, is worth billions. And you look at how Jacob Blake was treated by law enforcement. And you look at how the white citizens were treated by law enforcement as they assaulted the Capitol of the United States of America. I think it speaks volumes. At this time, it is my honor to turn this presentation over to the most able attorney I know working in civil rights, not only in America, but also around the world. Attorney Jasmine Rand.

Jasmine Rand  11:37

Thank you, and at this time, we would ask that the the videos of the shootings be played please. There should be two videos of the shooting.

What you’ve just seen is the two different angles of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29 year old African American male on August 23 2020, at his eight year old son’s birthday party. You saw Jacob Blake open the door to the van. As attorney Crump told us earlier, his children were seated in the back of that van and witnessed the police officer shoot at their father seven times. After Jacob was shot, he was airlifted to a hospital and woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed. He sustained injuries to his arm, kidney, liver and spinal cord and had nearly his entire colon and small intestines removed. He is now paralyzed from the waist down and may never walk again. His mind and his body will never be the same. The mind of his children will never be the same. Not only was Jacob Blake traumatized, but his children were traumatized. His community was traumatized. And African Americans continue to be traumatized as they witness the violence perpetuated against people of African descent in America.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said in a statement that while the country has seen a movement to demand equality and justice over the past year, it is clear that we have also failed to deliver on these promises, both as a state and as a country. He also stated that Jacob Blake’s life has forever been changed and his kids witnessed violence, no kid should ever see, experienced trauma no child should ever experience and all the world watched. Yet when presented the opportunity to rise to this moment and this movement and to take action to provide meaningful, common sense reform to enhance accountability and promote transparency and policing in our state, elected officials took no action. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul stated there’s a pressing need for criminal justice reform. Wisconsin should adopt a statewide use of force standard providing that officers’ primary duty is to preserve life, and that officers must use de escalation techniques to avoid force whenever possible, and law enforcement officers conducting patrol activities should have body worn cameras. Despite the movement throughout the United States to insist that police officers wear body worn cameras to provide us firsthand documentary evidence of these type of killings, killings against Black men and women, the Kenosha police department did not have body cameras that day.

Despite the comments of Wisconsin’s governor and Wisconsin’s Attorney General, on Tuesday, January 5 of this year, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced that the officer involved in the shooting will not face any criminal charges or consequences for killing Jacob Blake. Now in America, we’re not just dealing with violence in the limited context of police brutality perpetuated against Black Americans. We’re dealing with systemic and structural racism. One way that that systemic and structural racism exists is that Black people don’t even have the right to protest being shot in the back seven times. Our protesters and our journalists are repeatedly murdered, victimized, lose their eyes, suffer brain injuries, all for protesting the unjust and unlawful actions of police officers. As attorney Crump mentioned, on August 25 2020, 17 year old white male Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed 36 year old Joseph Rosenbaum and 26 year old Anthony Huber and injured and attempted to kill a third witness, I’m sorry, a third protester. Despite the fact that he was using an automatic rifle, police were able to take him down without firing a single shot. Someone that had just murdered two people and attempted to murder a third. If that doesn’t exemplify what attorney Crump is talking about these two different Americas, a system of justice for white people and a system of injustice for Black people, I don’t know what does.

Just two years prior to this shooting the Kenosha, the local sheriff stated, some people just aren’t worth saving. Consequently, the people not worth saving happened to be Black people living in Wisconsin. Black police officers who formerly worked for the Kenosha Police Department have spoken with journalists under the condition of anonymity, stating the racism that they faced as Black police officers within the police force and how often and frequently, they witnessed the abuse of the bodies of people of African descent. The police brutality lobbied against African Americans. And if we could now please play the video, The Good Morning America recording of Jacob Blake.

Video audio  18:15

Good Morning America host: Almost five months after being shot seven times by police leaving him partially paralyzed.

Jacob Blake: I was counting down my breath, my blinks I was like, God I’m coming, I guess this is it for me – all unfolding as his sons watch from the backseat of that car. I was like he’s shooting me, I couldn’t believe so I kind of sat down in the car trying to do this. put my hands up. I didn’t want him to shoot me in my face or in my head and he just kept shooting. What’s going through your mind? My babies are right here. My babies. So after he stopped shooting me, I said daddy love you no matter what. I thought it was gonna be the last, I thought it was gonna be the last thing I say to them. Thank God it wasn’t.

GMA Host: The incident once again sparking protests across the country, adding fuel to a fire that had been burning all summer since the police killing of George Floyd.

Jacob Blake: I did not want to be the next George Floyd. I did not want to die.

Jasmine Rand  19:43

Jacob Blake used what he believed his last words on earth to tell his children that he loved him. Police brutality, excessive force, racism, racism. Two justice systems in America, one Black and one white. This is what happens in broad daylight here in America at Black children’s birthday parties in their front yards in their cars. Jacob Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down and cannot walk. But as I stated earlier, he is not the only one that will suffer from this lifelong trauma. His children will suffer, his neighbors will suffer. In 2016, another similar case in Minnesota the case of Philando Castile, another Black man that was shot seven times at point blank range in front of his four year old in Minnesota. Black Americans watch this on a daily basis in their news feeds and are traumatized. wives are paralyzed at home with fear for their husbands, mothers and fathers are paralyzed with fear for safety of their children. I come to you today, not just as an attorney, but as an American citizen. I’m the wife of a Black man. I am the future mother of Black children, who has dedicated her life to stopping police brutality and racism. And who many times feels powerless to protect her husband and fears for her unborn children’s safety. I’ll give you one small anecdote from my personal experiences.

This summer, my husband and I locked ourselves out of our home in Florida. And my husband had to climb up onto our patio and open the door to let us in. And the entire time I had so much fear, I had so much anxiety that my neighbors would shoot him or that my neighbors would call the police and that my husband would end up dead just trying to lead us into our own home. This is a very real fear that Americans live with on a daily basis. I fear for our leaders, including attorney Benjamin Crump, including Al Sharpton, including the mothers and the fathers and the wives who lift their voices and protest the injustice that has happened to their loved ones. I fear for our protesters who protest the systemic abuse of people of African descent in America. I fear for our journalist, I fear for the future of our nation. Because this type of systemic injustice and oppression, as we’ve recently seen, undermines not only the right that African Americans have in America, it fundamentally undermines our democracy. Public lynch – public lynchings, executions. That’s what we’re witnessing, the reinforcement of white supremacy and structural racism. I would ask the commissioners, that as you participate in these hearings, and you watch the evidence presented to you, not just in the cases that Ben and I will present.

But in the cases our colleagues presented before you, I want you to pay attention to where many of these shootings these killings take place. They do not take place by the veil of night. They do not take place in secrecy. These are public executions taking place in broad daylight, with audiences with police officers knowing that people are recording them. And they’re not swayed because their behavior is sanctioned time and time and time again. On January 6 2021, as our nation’s capital was under siege by a group of almost exclusively white men and women carrying Confederate flags, a symbol of slavery, with our national security at stake, the lives of our congress members threatened, the life of our vice president threatened. The National Guard was not activated until hours later to protect our national security, not by our former President Donald Trump, but by our vice president. However, before the announcement was made, was made in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that the officer would not be charged with a crime for shooting and killing Jacob Blake, the National Guard was convened to keep control of Black Lives Matter protesters, to suppress the voice of the people, to undermine their first amendment right to freedom of speech and freedom of press. President Donald Trump encouraged violence and deadly force against Black lives matter protesters and told white insurrectionists at the Capitol, we love you.

If that’s not res ipso evidence that two Americas and two justice systems exist, one Black, and one white, I don’t know what it is. And when we can’t depend on our leaders here in America, and I understand that we have a transition of power, and we’re thankful of that power. We’re proud of the fact that we have our first female Vice President, we are proud of the fact that she is of Black and Indian descent, and Caribbean descent. But what Donald Trump gave us, former President Donald Trump gave us was a window into the world of America. And we can’t forget that just because we have a change in head of state that that world exists, that that world exerts a tremendous amount of power. And that structural racism claims the lives of Black Americans on a daily basis. As an American, as American citizens, as attorneys, who I’ve been working on these cases for over a decade, Benjamin Crump has been working on them for two, we look to you as commissioners to send a strong report the United Nations supporting our appeal for intervention into the systemic and strategic killing of Black and brown women and men in America, at the hands of law enforcement. We thank you for your time. We thank you for all of the work that has gone into convening such an important commission of inquiry, and we look forward to answering your questions.

Ria Julien  26:39

Attorneys Crump and Rand I will now turn it over to the commissioners for their questions.

Hina Jilani  26:50

Let me first of all, thank the two witnesses for their very clear testimony. I also think we didn’t get a chance to thank Andrea Ritchie, for her expert testimony earlier that we heard. What we have heard is not something that we didn’t know of before. But let me tell you, hearing the same facts, so coherently related, during their their testimonies, has had a much greater impact on me, even though this whole issue of Black lives matter has put more spotlight on what is happening in the United States with regard to police brutality against the colored communities, but and especially women and sexual minorities. But I thank you for your testimony. I think that the graphic details that we have seen through the videos, will leave no room for any kind of doubt with respect to the element of racial bias in the police. I don’t think that anywhere in the world, we can say that the police is well trained. But here, it’s not just the training of the police, but it is behavior and attitudes that seem to be so intrinsic to the population in the United States and, shocking that this is not something that has taken off as a issue much before the kind of hearings that we are conducting today.

There are two things that I that have caught my attention in particular. Firstly, and they are Ritchie’s comment that these are behaviors and attitudes that reflect the attitudes that we have heard through stories and other anecdotal evidence from the times of slavery. Slavery may have gone from the United States, but the the attitudes towards the colored community certainly have not. And I think that that is something that reminds me so much of our own feudal societies in South Asia. If it’s not racism, it’s poverty. It’s this sense of power over other human beings, which has allowed people to treat others with the kind of brutality that your police has been treating the colored communities in the United States. So the so I do believe that these are some things that globally, we have to grapple with, not just with respect to our law enforcement of the kind of racial attitudes, the kind of attitudes that in humanity, that is so intrinsic in the behavior in the brutal behavior of people against others who they think they hold power over.

Two elements that I feel we need more, and which the testimonies I think, have not given us enough is: Number one is the question of impunity. I think that’s very important. We have, of course, the very convincing evidence on the brutality with which the law enforcement treats colored communities in the course of enforcing the law. Secondly, I think it’s important what Ben Crump said, which is intellectual justification of discrimination, and the attitudes of and, and, the whole, what you said about, Ben, you said about the court, that there are two different systems of justice in the US. I would like to hear a little more about that and some examples. Plus, if somebody can give me some statistics on what is the ratio of Black judges in your criminal trial courts, so that we can see what is happening in the justice system itself? Thank you.

Benjamin Crump  31:22

Yes, ma’am. I will answer your last question first. And then let attorney Rand chime in. Often, when you look at the intellectual justification of discrimination, it starts at the top with the United States Supreme Court. There are two I guess bedrock cases when it comes to police, excessive use of force and violation of the Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure. That is Graham v. Connor, and Tennessee v. Garner. I have often argue that the Supreme Court of the United States has given police officers the playbook of how to have a get out of jail free card when they kill a black or brown person in America. All they have to say is three little words. I felt fear, or I felt threatened. And the Supreme Court says at that point, then you can’t second guess the officer. You were not there. No matter how much credible objective evidence that you have, that this was an excessive, brutal use of bullets. In fact, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said with the recent based on Graham v. Connor, and Tennessee versus Garner, in particular in the Mullenix v Luna case, where a police officer shot a gun from an overpass to a Hispanic man that was driving away from the police and killed the motorist and then claimed that he felt in fear of his life. She said that puts forth a policy that the police are allowed to shoot first and think later. Well, I’ve often believe that that is the case with Black people in America, they shoot first and ask questions later.

We saw that with, you asked about other cases where there was nobody held accountable. Well, in Eric Garner, the first “I can’t breathe” case in Staten Island, New York, came five years before George Floyd said “I can’t breathe,” no officers were indicted. Nobody was ever held accountable. Then you look at Philando Castile. As attorney Rand spoke of, the officer was not convicted even though he shot him in cold blood in front of his girlfriend and his daughter in the vehicle. Then you look at Terrence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma on broad daylight on video walking away from the police with his hands up in the air and a white police woman. Betty Shelby, shoots and kills him. Then you look at Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the ground right before the police killed him. Minutes before they said we’re gonna kill you, you big Black and they use some profanity. And then four minutes later that’s exactly what the police did. You Look at Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Illinois, teenager running away from the police, shot 16 times in the back. You look at Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri at 18 years old. in Ferguson, Missouri, broad daylight, dozens of witnesses say he had his hands up when the police shot him. You look at 12 year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, playing on a playground by himself, and police pull up in less than 1.7 seconds and shoot and kill that baby. And he dies in snow, bleeding out with them offering no medical assistance. No police officer was ever arrested and charged for the killing. And it’s not just Black men, it’s that Black women as well. Sandra Bland. Pamela Turner in Houston, Texas. Atatiana Jefferson in Texas. Natasha McKenna in Virginia. I mean, I can give you name after name as exhibits, that Black people are killed or brutalized by police. And then the courts will engage in intellectual justification of discrimination, to make sure that the police are not held accountable.

So in essence, mentioning these extrajudicial killings of black people in America, and I’m often reminded of what Martin Luther King said in his letter from the Birmingham Jail, just because they say it’s legal, that doesn’t make it right. He said that everything that Hitler did to the Jews in Germany was legal, but that didn’t make it right. He said that slavery was legal. But that didn’t make it right. He said that segregation is legal. But that didn’t make it right. And attorney Rand and I, we declared that when they say that killing Black people in America is legal time and time and time again, that does not make it right.

Hina Jilani  37:12

Thank you, Mr. Crump.

Jasmine Rand  37:15

And I’ll just respond briefly to the discussion of the level of impunity in terms of the killing of people of African descent in America. I think it’s really important to point out that before we even get to what attorney Crump is talking about the intellectual justification of the killing of Black and brown people in our court system, it’s important to note that there wouldn’t even be an offer of any justification at all, if it wasn’t for the work and the movement that attorney Benjamin Crump has largely led over the past decade to force the arrests and investigations into the shooting of Black and brown people. It is not our role as civil rights attorneys to lead protests, to lead marches, to engage in media, to advocate on behalf of our clients. And so every time we get one of these police shootings, we spend time that we’re not compensated for, we spend our own resources that we are often not reimbursed for, to travel, to lobby and to protest for the arrest and the prosecution of the people who have killed these unarmed often Black and brown people. And so again, there are not many attorneys in the United States who have a microphone as big as Benjamin Crump. And that can engage press in the way that he does. And there are not many attorneys who can afford to spend their time without compensation and to spend their money without return for the cause of social justice. And that’s really not our job.

It’s the function of the government and the state to hold people accountable for the killing of Black, brown, Black and brown men and women. I would also like to point out that the impunity of officers is so widespread. The lack of accountability of police officers is so widespread that it has emboldened white citizens to engage and encourage white citizens to kill unarmed black men like we saw in the cases of Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin, because much like their white police officer counterparts, white citizens are not even held accountable for killing unarmed, Black, Black men and women. And similarly to the situation with police officers, we often have to lead protests and marches and movements lobbying for the arrest of white citizens who unlawfully kill young, Black and brown men and women. And just to give you I guess, one more statistic about the Kenosha Police Department Approximately 80% of the police force is white, which does not reflect the local community.

Ria Julien  40:10

If I may interrupt, I would like to just call time. There are 10 minutes left in the hearing.

Jasmine Rand  40:20

I think Commissioner Bhagwat is trying to speak but we can’t hear her.

Benjamin Crump  40:29

She’s muted. She’s muted.

Niloufer Bhagwat  40:37

You hear me? Yes. Attorney Rand, you informed us that the situation is systemic. And you were apprehensive in an incident even relating to a member of your family? Could you tell us what’s the Republican and Democratic parties have done over several decades, if not more than a century, much more than a century, to rectify the situation? Or is this a bipartisan policy of both parties to use race and class to victimize African Americans in the United States of America, the descendants of slaves, because as you know, the crime bill was passed in 94. After which 30 billion in, the crime bill allocated 30 billion to increase the police force by 100,000. And to increase prison, prison prison rooms by about 125,000. That is there was a 28% increase in force by a Democratic administration. So is this problem not restricted to one party, but does it extend to the whole political system?

Jasmine Rand  42:21

And that’s why I cautioned that would the election of President Joe Biden and vice president Kamala Harris, that we not forget the window that President Trump’s administration provided into our world that revealed structural racism from the top down. And by virtue of occupying the seat of the President of the United States of America, by virtue, in many instances of white citizenship, such as myself, I’m a white woman, and a white citizen of America. Because our system is so fundamentally flawed., it leads to the oppression of Black and brown people. And so although there are many policy differences, between Democrats and between Republicans, it remains very much a bipartisan issue. And when we talk about structural racism, we’re not just talking about police shootings and killings, we’re talking about inequality in health care. If you look at the COVID rates in our nation, you will see how many African Americans died from COVID, as opposed to white Americans or persons of other races. If you look at our education system, you will see the disparities and access to education. If you look at who sits on death row, which prisoners are lined up to be executed, you will see that it is mostly Black men. When you look at who’s in jail in our country, you will see that, again, our jails and our prison systems are disproportionately filled with Black and brown people. And unless we believe, which I believe none of us here today believe, that Black and brown people, people are somehow morally inferior to white people, then we have to accept the truth that our system is broken. And that is our system itself. that is leading to this pervasive structural racism.

Niloufer Bhagwat  44:28

Two more questions relating to the actual incident. When the police came on the site, the video is there. But I just want to clarify, did they inquire from Jacob Black, from Jacob Blake, as to the nature of the complaint made against him?

Benjamin Crump  44:51

No, they did not. No, no, they did not. In fact, as Mr. Blake said they gave him no verbal commands, which is often the case, when they interact with African Americans, they literally will first exert force. And it’s almost as Justice Sotomayor said, they will shoot first and ask questions later. And just to go back to your previous question just for a second, I do believe, as Attorney Rand said, that the structural racism is so entrenched, in the institutions of government in the United States of America, that it does transcend the criminal justice system, that the individuals who are put into power at different points in time will not disturb the institution of racism that exists. And so we are trying to make sure people understand that this is bigger than any individual. This has been built from 400 years when Africans were enslaved in America. And so we have to remember that for 401 years, Black people in America, since 1619, since the first Africans were bought here in chains, have been dealing with systematic racism and oppression. And I believe that the police and the prison industrial complex, the school to prison pipeline, that often targets our children, is all a byproduct of that systematic racism.

Niloufer Bhagwat  46:50

One more question. Martin Luther King, the great leader said that we are recruiting African American in disproportionate numbers into the military. We find them acceptable to the US military, and we send them to South East Asia, to to forcibly enforce democracy and a republic. And he says that racism in the United States was some way connected with the occupation of countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin. What is what do you have to say about this?

Benjamin Crump  47:42

I believe racism in America, as well as racism in different parts of the world, is evidenced by the sheer realities that oppressed people are forced to live under. And we have learned from Nelson Mandela and South Africa, we have learned from leaders in India and places all over the world, that power of, the powers that be will engage in the intellectual justification of discrimination, repeatedly to justify the acts of atrocity and abuse. Attorney Rand, I think was going to add to that.

Jasmine Rand  48:35

And I will just say that our nation is a relatively young nation, and it is a relatively wealthy nation. And I think that that has led to a lot of youthful arrogance on our behalf as a nation and in our policies. I think it is very easy for the international community, for people who come from nations that are much older than ours, such as India, to see that the treatment of Black people in the United States is a direct inheritance of the system of slavery. But unfortunately, domestically, that’s not obvious to many people. When we make that argument, it seems ridiculous when it’s so obvious to me that the only thing that has changed with time is technology and that the mechanism of death becomes increasingly easier with the use and proliferation of guns and firearms. I will also say that, I agree with you Commissioner, our, our policy of structural and systemic racism is not for domestic use only. It is frequently exported, and used to oppress people throughout the world. And I will just leave you with with some words that I read last night from former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, she said the greatest enforcers of democracy around the world are other democratic nations. And so it’s so important that we have these international commissions convened, that when our democracy fails in one nation, when our human rights are abused in one nation, that we hold each other accountable. And lastly, before we close out, I meant to do this at the beginning, I would just like to acknowledge and thank mine and Ben’s law students from Florida State College of Law, we are teaching a course called Lawyering the Movement #GeorgeFloyd. And our students helped us prepare for the hearing today, and several of them are in attendance. So I’d like to thank them for their contributions.

Niloufer Bhagwat  50:38

Please convey our heartfelt feelings to the family of Jacob Blake, who is paying for his medical treatment and his disability? Who is paying or compensating him? Would you provide?

Benjamin Crump  50:55

Yes, ma’am. Unfortunately, that burden has fallen on his family. The fact that not only can he not walk, he not he does not have control of his bowels. He does have a terrible spasms, his mother has stopped working now to tend to her son full time. The fact that she has to do things that no mother would think they would have to do for their adult son, just to have him use the bathroom. The fact that it is a mental, just, assault on their entire family, especially Jacob himself, who was one of the people who would take care of people in the family now, he feels like he’s a baby again, and must be taken care of by everybody else in the family having to sacrifice. And so we pray that people will continue to try to help financial of him, to help him be able to sustain life. And the mere fact that regrettably, he does not have the financial resources to have a medical assistant be with him, to care for him, that burden is now left to his mother.

Niloufer Bhagwat  52:26

Thank you, Attorney Crump and Attorney Rand. Thank you very much for your testimony. We really do appreciate your cooperation with the commission.

Hina Jilani  52:37

Thank you very much, both of you. And I hope that you would also convey our feelings to the family of Mr. Jacob Blake, but also thank your students who helped you prepare the testimony today.

Ria Julien  52:52

Thank you. This concludes the hearing in the case of Jacob Blake, we will now have a short break. Thank you again to the witnesses and to the commissioners. Hearings will resume on the hour with the case of George Floyd. Thank you.

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