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WA – OPINION – Leave firearms out of protests, public spaces

Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Illinois resident, crossed state lines, armed with an AR-15-style rifle, and is alleged to have killed two protesters on Aug. 25 in Kenosha, Wis., following the police shooting As we’ve seen throughout last year’s unrest and up to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, public demonstrations — where passions and personal convictions were already running hot — became an even more volatile and too often deadly mix when firearms and other weapons were brandished. of a black man two days earlier. Rittenhouse, who has claimed self-defense, has said he went to the Kenosha demonstrations to protect private property. He is out on bail, awaiting trial. Closer to home, in the days following the suffocation death of George Floyd by a police officer on May 25 in Minneapolis, a peaceful demonstration the following Saturday in Snohomish included hundreds lining the city’s streets, protesting Floyd’s death and chanting “Black lives matter!” That demonstration was followed the next day in the same usually quiet city as people, openly carrying assault-style weapons and other firearms, lined First Street, apparently in the belief — later determined to be a hoax promoted by a white nationalist organization — that an antifa group had announced on social media plans to vandalize and loot shops in Snohomish and other local communities. No violence nor arrests followed either demonstration, but the open display of firearms concerned many, including the Washington National Guard’s Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, who at a news conference with Gov. Jay Inslee, asked people to “remain calm and please don’t run around with weapons.” “The more weapons there are at a site, the more chances to have an accidental shooting,” Daughtery said. Then earlier this month the passions of a bitter election season came to a deadly head when — encouraged by then-President Trump — hundreds of protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol, attempting to prevent Congress’ certification of the Electoral College results that determined Joe Biden as the election’s winner. Five people died in the riot, including a Capitol police officer, struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.  [full article]

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