Violence sprung from violence following the police shooting of 29-year-old black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Sunday when an Illinois teen was arrested and charged with first-degree homicide.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, reportedly traveled to Wisconsin to “protect” local businesses in the midst of anti-police brutality protests; he has been accused of killing two protestors and injuring a third.
How did we get here? It started Sunday when a video of the police shooting of Blake went viral. According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) — who is currently investigating the incident with the FBI, Wisconsin State Patrol and Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office — police responded to a call in a residential area after a woman called to report that “her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.” Blake was not the boyfriend in question.
Blake was reportedly attempting to break up a verbal altercation between two women when the cops arrived on the scene. The video shows Blake moving toward the driver’s seat of his car when Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey grabbed his T-shirt and fired seven times at Blake’s back. Blake’s three sons were in the car at the time.
According to the DCI’s release, police tried to subdue Blake with a taser before shots were fired. They also report that he had a knife tucked in the driver’s side floorboard of his car. Right-wing media figures such as Megyn Kelly have used the presence of the knife as justification for the officer’s actions, despite the fact that the DCI did not indicate if Blake threatened police with the weapon in any way, or even if it had been visible during the altercation.
Blake remains in stable condition but his family has said he will be paralyzed from the waist down. His family has retained lawyer Benjamin Crump, who also represents the families of police shooting victims George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Meanwhile, Sheskey has been put on administrative leave.
Protests broke out in the wake of the shooting and on Tuesday, Rittenhouse and his military-style semi-automatic rifle made their way to Kenosha.
Tuesday, August 25th
Late Tuesday night, two people were fatally shot during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Blake. Another person was injured by gunfire, according to the New York Times.
Earlier that evening, protesters assembled outside the courthouse and threw rocks, water bottles, and fireworks at the police. According to the Times, police shot tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, after which demonstrators spilled into the streets, some assembling at a nearby gas station. Shots were soon fired when protesters reportedly clashed with a group of men who stood outside the gas station with guns during the protests, aiming to protect that property from demonstrators. Per the Times, Kenosha Sheriff David Beth was investigating those men as the source of the gunfire.
“I’ve had people saying, ‘Why don’t you deputize citizens?’” he said. “This is why you don’t deputize citizens with guns to protect Kenosha.” Beth later clarified that he did not deputize citizens during the protests and did not plan to, according to CNN.
Wednesday, August 26th
Rittenhouse was arrested and charged with first-degree homicide. He was arrested in Antioch, Illinois, where he lives, according to a complaint acquired by Rolling Stone from the Antioch Police Department. He has been remanded to the care of Hulse Detention Center in Lake County, Illinois, not far from Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse’s attorney, Emily Halter, declined to comment on the case to Rolling Stone. Rittenhouse is currently being held without bond while he awaits extradition to Wisconsin; his hearing is scheduled for Friday, August 28th.
Thursday, August 27th
More information about Rittenhouse came to light as media outlets clashed over his motivations. Fox News host Tucker Carlson said in a segment: “How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?” Several celebrities, such as Billy Eichner, Ike Barinholtz and Julie Klausner, promptly called for Carlson to be fired.
Media outlets like the New York Times wrote about the teen’s social media accounts — which are replete with pro-police messaging like “Blue Lives Matter” and photos of firearms — while CNN reported that Rittenhouse was a former Public Safety Cadet with the Lindenhurst, Grayslake, Hainesville Police Department’s Public Safety Cadet Program. That program is for youth who want to pursue a career in law enforcement. According to Buzzfeed, the Facebook page for that Safety Cadet Program was deleted when images of a boy named “Kyle” from the page started making the round online. The teen was also a fire protection cadet with the Antioch Fire Department.
Buzzfeed also reported that Rittenhouse attended a Des Moines, Iowa, Donald Trump rally in January. Trump 2020 campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh told the publication: “This individual had nothing to do with our campaign and we fully support our fantastic law enforcement for their swift action in this case.”
Meanwhile, Facebook blocked searches for Rittenhouse’s name after users complained about posts in praise of the teen’s actions. His personal profile was also removed.
Facebook has recently been scrutiny after the Verge reported that it took no action against a pro-militia group called Kenosha Guard, which was riddled with comments suggesting members take arms against protesters. The group was removed after the shooting. Last week, Facebook announced that it would be taking action against extremist groups and accounts, such as pro-militia groups.
This is a developing story…