Nov 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Jacob Blake's father speaks out after Rittenhouse verdict

Jacob Blake Sr, the father of Jacob Blake

Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake, at a press conference in 2020. Photo: Michael M. Santiago via Getty Images

The father of Jacob Blake says he spent about an hour Friday "trying to find the ropes so I didn't fall down" in the wake of the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict.

Driving the news: A mostly-white jury found Rittenhouse, a white 18-year-old, not guilty in the fatal August 2020 shooting of two people who attended demonstrations in support of Jacob Blake, who was shot by a Kenosha police officer.

  • On Friday afternoon, Blake's father Jacob Blake, Jr. — "Big Jake," as he's commonly called — received a text that altered his perspective.
  • "Guilty," it read.

The message came from Laurie Bey, whose son Cameron Lamb, a 26-year-old Black man, was killed in 2019 by police in his own backyard in Kansas City.

Between the lines: Big Jake says he struggles to see that justice was served in either his son's case or in the Rittenhouse verdict.

  • Over the days that followed the police shooting of Blake, details emerged that a warrant had been issued for his arrest earlier that summer on charges of third-degree sexual assault and abuse.
  • Last November, those charges were dropped in a plea deal.
  • Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley declined to charge Rusten Sheskey, the officer who shot Blake, saying evidence showed Blake was turning toward the officer with a knife.
  • Viral video of Blake's shooting showed he was not facing the officer when he was shot in the back.

The big picture: Blake, now 30, remains paralyzed from the waist down.

  • Two nights after Blake was shot, Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time, brought an AR-15-style rifle to the Kenosha protests, saying he wanted to protect property and provide first aid. He killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and injured Gaige Grosskreutz. All three are white.
  • Jurors ruled Friday that Rittenhouse acted in self defense.

"It never stops," Big Jake told Axios early Saturday morning.

  • "We understand that this is a society built on systemic racism. There was no way they were going to convict that white individual with killing those other two white individuals that had the nerve to be out there supporting a Black individual."

The bottom line: Big Jake believes people with a vigilante streak were emboldened by Friday's decision and fallout.

  • "Now it's OK to say they felt danger and they can kill people in a crowd," he says. "So all of those death threats I've received in the past year and a half, they could kill me if they want to, if they just say they feel threatened by me."
  • "That's not going to stop me," Big Jake said. "I'm not going to wrap up in my covers and go to sleep. We must continue to fight."

Go deeper: Axios Charlotte's interview with Big Jake back in September of 2020.

Go deeper