Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump sidesteps Blake shooting to extol law enforcement in Kenosha Trump punts when asked about systemic racism in US Barr announces new FISA restrictions MORE said that he doesn’t think the cases of George Floyd and Jacob Blake are “interchangeable” when asked about both in an interview on Wednesday.
Barr said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday afternoon that he believes there is a “big difference” between the cases of police using force against Black men, which have prompted widespread protests against racial injustice across the nation.
Pressed by host Wolf Blitzer for an explanation, Barr said Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in Minneapolis earlier this year after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes, was “already subdued, incapacitated, in handcuffs and was not armed.”
“In the Jacob case, he was in the midst of committing a felony, and he was armed. So that’s a big difference,” Barr claimed before adding moments later that he doesn’t want to talk about either of the cases “as if they’re interchangeable.”
Blake, who is also Black, was shot at close range several times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wis., last month as he attempted to enter his vehicle. At the time, authorities said police were responding to reports of a domestic incident.
While the Wisconsin Department of Justice said Blake, whose family said he was left partially paralyzed after the shooting, admitted to having a knife in his possession during an investigation following the shooting, it’s unclear if he was armed with a knife at the time of the shooting. The office said the knife was recovered from the floorboard of Blake’s car and that no other weapons were recovered during the search.
In a statement later on Wednesday, renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the families of both Floyd and Blake, and co-counsels Patrick Salvi and B’Ivory Lamarr disputed Barr’s account of the events leading up to the shooting involving Blake.
“Attorney General Barr is misinformed. The police officers were the aggressors from start to finish, based on video and witness accounts,” the legal team said in a joint statement. “There was never any point in time when there was justification for deadly force. In fact, there were innocent bystanders in the line of fire when he shot seven times into Jacob’s back.”
“At all material times, Jacob’s back was to the officers and he never posed an imminent threat. This was never a life or death situation for the officers,” they added.
In his interview on Wednesday, Barr was also pressed about recent comments made by Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., at the March on Washington earlier this week, during which he said there are “two systems of justice in the US.”
“There’s one for that white boy,” he said, referring to Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old from Illinois who was arrested and facing charges of first-degree intentional homicide after being identified as the suspect in the fatal shooting of two people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, “and then there is a justice system for mine.”
“I don’t get it, had that been a black man, he’d have been dead right on the spot. He’d never been able to make it back home,” he continued, referring to Rittenhouse, who was not arrested until after making it back to Illinois.
Asked about the comments by Blake’s father, Barr said Wednesday that he doesn’t “think there are two justice systems.”
“You know, I think the narrative that the police are on some, you know, epidemic of shooting unarmed black men is simply a false narrative and also the narrative that that’s based on race,” he said.
“I think there are some situations where statistics would suggest that they are treated differently, but I don’t think that that’s necessarily racism,” he also said.