KENOSHA, Wis. — Jacob Blake, the Black man shot by Kenosha police in August 2020, recently told TMZ that he believes if Kyle Rittenhouse were a different ethnicity, "he'd be gone."
Rittenhouse was found not guilty on Friday on five counts linked to two fatal shootings amid protests against police brutality sparked by the shooting of Blake.
"I do still feel very strongly that if he was a different ethnicity or people/group, he'd be gone. There wouldn't be no 'he's a hero' and this that and the third," Blake told TMZ on Thursday. "They would have said, 'He's underage, he traveled to a different state with a firearm that didn't belong to him.'"
Rittenhouse and his defense team argued the then 17-year-old fired an AR-15 style rifle in self-defense. Prosecutors argued Rittenhouse was the instigator and aggressor in the incident.
Blake was shot last August when Kenosha police responded to a domestic incident. Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake seven times in the back, paralyzing Blake from the waist down.
Police say they thought Blake was reaching for a knife. Sheskey was not criminally charged for the incident.
Blake's supporters have fought back against the narrative that he was a threat to the officers.
During the TMZ interview, Blake was asked about the role of race in the Rittenhouse shooting.
"The high fives, he was caught throwing up the Aryan nation [hand sign], the judge seems like he really likes the guy [Rittenhouse]," he said. "Honestly the kid [Rittenhouse] might not be a bad person. I'm not saying he's a bad person at all, but what he did — he shouldn't have been there. He shouldn't have been there."
"I wish this didn't happen to me," he said. "But I also wish that it didn't escalate to the point where it caused a riot. I am not happy about that. But what can we do. The world — this type of stuff been going on for a long time."
Blake mentioned he turned 30 years old this year. He added he was born the same year that the police beating of Rodney King was videotaped, sparking riots in Los Angeles.
"It's just ironic 30 years later, here I am," Blake said.
Blake then returned to the topic of Rittenhouse.
"We know that he shouldn't have been out there," he said. "No matter if these people tried to kick him in the face, hit him with a skateboard, and there was even a guy he shot in the arm. The other guy had a gun — he didn't even shoot him. He could have opened fire on him easily. You know he was right there. He chose not to shoot him. The guy that he shot seems like a very stand up individual."
Blake's recovery from his shooting continues. He told TMZ he had forgiven Sheskey, but the injuries continue to bring him pain.
This story was originally published by Jackson Danbeck on Scripps station TMJ4 in Milwaukee.