STLTODAY.COM August 28, 2020 – The details emerging about the 17-year-old suspected of three shootings of protesters Tuesday night in Kenosha, Wisconsin, should shock even the most ardent gun-rights activists.
In the same week the Republican Party celebrated the wild-eyed, gun-waving antics of St. Louis couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey, militiamen in Kenosha found willing accomplices among local police for their vigilante action. It should come as no surprise that a vigilante teenager, who had no business possessing a gun in the first place, interpreted that scenario as justification for pulling the trigger on his assault rifle.
Two people are now dead. Kyle Rittenhouse, now charged with first-degree intentional homicide, appeared to have mixed himself into a crowd of protesters after having stood guard outside a Kenosha used-car lot. His weapon of choice, an AR-15 variety, was the same military-style weapon brandished by Mark McCloskey from his Central West End porch last month.
Social media posts indicate Rittenhouse, from across state lines in Antioch, Illinois, fancied himself an officer-in-training after having participated in a youth police cadet program. A video after the Kenosha shootings showed him approaching a police line, rifle at his side. At times his hands were raised but at others, he reached repeatedly for his weapon in a way that certainly would have prompted police to open fire had the person been Black.
Yet police didn’t order him to lie on the ground or disarm. In fact, they let him walk right by, enabling him to escape despite protesters pointing at him and identifying him as the shooter. Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis had the gall to suggest the protesters shared blame for the tragedy for having violated an 8 p.m. curfew — the same curfew the vigilantes were violating even though police made no attempt to enforce it on them.
Contrast the Kenosha police reaction to the way they responded Sunday when Jacob Blake was recorded walking away from police to get into his car. They shot him at least seven times in the back. Blake — unarmed and posing no apparent threat — is Black. Rittenhouse — heavily armed and demonstrably dangerous — is white.
Rittenhouse was shown offering commentary alongside other vigilantes in a two-hour RundownLive.com video recorded before and after Tuesday’s shooting. Several of the gunmen wore vests full of multiple ammunition magazines and interacting with police despite the curfew. The gunmen even noted in the video how the police slowly pushed the protesters directly toward the vigilantes, creating the tense, confrontational situation that raised the likelihood of violence. [full article]