Exclusive: Jacob Blake speaks out a year later. 'I have not survived until something has changed'
Updated 4:01 AM ET, Sun August 29, 2021
Chicago (CNN)During the Fourth of July weekend, Jacob Blake says he called 911 over what he later realized was an anxiety attack.
The fireworks triggered what he felt had been a crescendo of pain over a difficult and turbulent year, particularly when it came to gun violence. Blake was in the Chicago area that weekend with family.
He says the anxious episode "was the most painful experience" since he was shot seven times in his side on August 23, 2020 by Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey after he and two other officers responded to a call for a domestic incident.
A year later, Blake tells CNN that he didn't want to call 911 during the holiday, but he had no other option.
"Before we even got to the 4th of July, the weekend was bloody already, Blake says. "I was watching all of my people dying."
"I'm hearing these booms [fireworks] and it's not scaring me because I got shot, it's scaring me because all of those people have gotten shot so every time a boom went off, I'm kind of imagining people dying."
A year ago, Blake watched from his Wisconsin hospital bed as his story -- his barely lived experience -- played on a nearby TV.
"It made the pain worse," Blake tells CNN.
Since then, he estimated he's watched himself get shot roughly 300 times.
Blake's shooting came toward the end of last summer, which started with the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed.
Coming in and out of consciousness while initially handcuffed to the bed around that time, Blake remembers seeing the hundreds that took to the streets in his name.
"I can't really explain the feeling...it was out of body. I felt like I was floating for a while, watching everything happen," Blake says. "It blew my mind that they were that mad about it, that people care about it, that they care about me."
Many of the nights of demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and other parts of the US, ended in clashes with police, violence, and even extensive fires.
"I didn't agree with what they were doing, but I understood," says Blake, as he recalls what happened after Rodney King was brutally beaten by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991.
Blake even remembers talking about Floyd, and the aftermath of his murder, in the weeks leading up to his own shooting. Floyd was killed by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020, nearly four months to the day before Blake was shot.
"One thing that I said, they're gonna end up shooting the wrong person or killing the wrong person," Blake told CNN. "And a month later it happened to me."
'I don't have the physical strength to be upset'
A year later, he feels nothing is different in terms of policing and the general divisiveness of the world, but he's determined to change that.
"Yeah, I'm here, and yeah I'm about to be walking, but I really don't feel like I have survived because it could happen to me again," Blake says. "I have not survived until something has changed."
Today Blake is proud to even be able to stand, much less walk.
"I was so geeked," says Blake on his first time being able to stand in October 2020. "I forgot how tall I was," he says of his about 6'0 tall frame.
Blake tells CNN he was able to take a few steps during his son's birthday celebration on August 23 this year, an effort that came on the other side of months of physical rehabilitation.