KENOSHA, Wis. — Jacob Blake said in a new interview with TMZ that he believes if Kyle Rittenhouse was of a different ethnicity, "he'd be gone."
"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 said. "They would have said he's underage, he traveled to a different state, with a firearm that didn't belong to him."
Blake gave the interview as the trial of Rittenhouse continues into its 13th day - and the third day of jury deliberations. Rittenhouse is on trial for shooting and killing two people and injuring a third during protests and unrest over police brutality, a protest that was sparked in part by the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer.
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Rittenhouse and his defense team have argued the then 17-year-old fired an AR-15 style rifle in self-defense. Prosecutors have argued Rittenhouse was the instigator and aggressor in the incident. Rittenhouse faces charges including 1st degree reckless homicide, 1st degree intentional homicide, and attempted 1st degree intentional homicide, among other charges.
Kenosha police responded to a domestic incident last summer, ending with Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey firing seven bullets into Blake, paralyzing him from the waist down. Police say they thought he was reaching for a knife, and Sheskey was not criminally charged for the incident. Supporters of Blake have fought back against the narrative that Blake 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.
Blake continued, "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."
Watch the interview here:
"I wish this didn't happen to me. 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 said.
Blake mentioned he turned 30 years old this year, and 30 years ago there was also unrest after police officers in LA beat unarmed Rodney King, all captured on camera. "It's just ironic 30 years later, here I am," he said.
Blake returned to the topic of Rittenhouse, saying "we know that he shouldn't have been out there. 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 the shooting continues. He told TMZ he has forgiven Sheskey, but the injuries continue to bring him pain.