Jacob Blake’s father has questioned the drastically different treatment his son received at the hands of Wisconsin police compared to a white suspect accused of opening fire and killing two people who were protesting Blake’s shooting.
Blake was shot seven times by Kenosha Police Department officers last Sunday evening as he got into a car with his family. The shooting sparked days of protests in the city and, on Wednesday night, two of those protesters were shot dead. The suspect has been named as white 17-year-old Blue Lives Matter fan Kyle Rittenhouse.
Jacob Blake Sr. spoke to CNN’s New Day on Friday, and spoke of his fury at the difference in how the two men have been treated by Kenosha cops. Rittenhouse was filmed receiving water from police officers before the shooting, and the armed group he was with was told by one cop: “We appreciate you guys... We really do.”
“It’s two justice systems,” said Blake’s dad. “That 17-year-old Caucasian shot and killed two people and blew another man’s arm off on his way back to Antioch, Illinois. He got to go home... They gave that guy water and a high-five. My son got ICU and paralyzed from the waist down. Those are the two justice systems right in front of you.”
Blake Sr. also described the heartbreaking conversations he’s now been forced to have with his grandchildren, saying: “They’ve said ‘Papa, why did they shoot my daddy in the back? Where’s Daddy?’ They want their father because he was part of their life every day. He’s a person. He’s a human being. He’s not an animal. He’s a human—but my son has not been afforded the rights of a human.”
Blake went on: “Sometimes you get a little angry. Sometimes more than a little angry. Because we’ve been going through this so long.”
In a separate development Friday morning, Wisconsin’s Department of Justice gave more details on the moments leading up to Blake’s shooting and named two more of the involved officers. In its news release, the DOJ said Officers Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek were alongside Officer Rusten Sheskey, who shot Blake. The statement also said that Blake was tased twice before being shot.
The DOJ said officers were dispatched to the scene after a “female caller reported that her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.” It went on to say Sheskey “deployed a taser to attempt to stop” Blake, followed by another tasing attempt from Arenas, but neither shot incapacitated him. The department states that, when Blake approached his car after allegedly admitting he had a knife, Sheskey fired into Blake’s back seven times.
Blake’s father has said the shots left his son paralyzed from the waist down, and said Thursday that, when he visited his son in hospital on Wednesday, he found him handcuffed to the bed.