Devereaux, Ryan (8/28/20) “The thin blue…” The Intercept.
“We appreciate you guys. We really do.”
That’s what the police officers in vehicles told a gathering of armed men on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin while throwing them bottles of water. One of those men then killed two protesters and seriously wounded another.
After shooting a protester, the assailant made a call saying “I just killed somebody.” He then ran away while other young men tried to save the protester’s life.
The shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, approached police with his arms up and his AR-15 gun strapped around his chest. He was virtually ignored and allowed to return home even though other protesters were telling the police that he had just shot someone.
Knosha County Sheriff David Beth offered no explanation as to why Rittenhouse was permitted to leave the scene of the shootings. In addition to being identified as a shooter out after curfew, the 17-year-old was not old enough to legally carry the weapon he had.
When asked about Rittenhouse leaving the scene, the sheriff said: “I don’t have a clue.” He later added: “I don’t even know the man’s name.”
Just hours before the shooting, the Kenosha Guard, a local militia group issued a “call to arms” over Facebook. This call was amplified by the conspiracy theory website, InfoWars. They urged private citizens to arm themselves and come out in defense of private property.
Sheriff Beth said at a press conference that the group sought to be deputized, a request he claims he rejected. But, you only have to watch Rittenhouse walking toward the police, an AK-15 strapped around his chest to realize that he assumed the police would regard him as an ally.
“Mike German, a former FBI agent who went undercover in far-right groups in the 1990s and who is now at the Brennan Center for Justice, noted that law enforcement’s tendency to back off in the face armed right-wing protests was evident in altercations during Trump’s 2016 run for office, and has continued throughout his administration. “To see the police continuing to treat these far-right militants as friendlies is troubling,” he said.” (Quote from the Intercept)
Among the myriad factors contributing to the political violence and unrest the country is now witnessing is an inversion of the relationship between some elements of the armed right and the federal government…. “The anti-government movement is no longer anti-government in the sense that the federal government is no longer its enemy.” “Trump has changed that calculation — the militias, the larger anti-government world, is essentially a pro-Trump political formation.” (Quote from the Intercept)
Posts Rittenhouse made on social media indicate that his worldview was drenched in a militarized culture that has animated large swaths of the country after nearly two decades of war and the emergence of law enforcement as a powerful cultural and political constituency. Embedded in that worldview is a “tactical” community with its own symbols and language, built around the idea of constant threat, good guys versus bad guys, and the sacred role of guns in maintaining social order.
In Philadelphia earlier this summer, a meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and the local police union also featured members of the Proud Boys, a right-wing street-fighting gang that often shows up at pro-police protests to brawl with leftists.
Mackey, Robert (8/27/20) “Trump supporters…” The Intercept.
When Tucker Carlson set off a firestorm of criticism on Wednesday — by describing a 17-year-old Trump supporter who opened fire on protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday, killing two, as a well-meaning kid who decided he “had to maintain order” in the Democrat-run state because “no one else would” — the Fox News host was surfacing an idea that had already spread widely on the far-right.
The Intercept: Militia and the Thin Blue Line