On August 25, 2020, a 17-year old named Kyle Rittenhouse went to Kenosha, Wisconsin from his home in Illinois in the wake of the attempted murder-by-cop of Jacob Blake. Kyle, armed with an AR-15 joined other armed men to form a militia with the intention of “protecting property” during the BLM protest. Early in the evening, police drove down the line of the militia and offered them water while thanking them for their help. I kid you not.
These same police were shooting unarmed, non-violent BLM protesters with “less-lethal” ammunition, causing several extensive injuries. The night ended with not only these protesters injured by the police, but also two BLM protesters dead and another seriously injured by Kyle Rittenhouse. Kyle walked toward police with the murder weapon hanging around his body and his hands in the air, ostensibly to give himself up, but the police told him to move to the side and drove right by him. Kyle went home that night but was arrested on murder charges the following day.
You can track the night through the NYT article “Tracking the Suspect in the Fatal Kenosha Shootings.” It shows video and photo evidence of what happened when.
Kyle claimed he acted in self defense, as at least two of his victims were armed. One of them shot first, straight up into the air, before Kyle shot him. His lawyers were preparing such a plea when forensic evidence came back proving Kyle shot one of his victims in the back. The second murder victim had a skateboard.
Voices from the alt-right heralded Kyle as a “hero” and a “national treasure.” Ann Coulter said she wanted him to be her president. A 17-yr old murderer. Yep. One tweeter responded she wanted Kyle to be her bodyguard. Floods of tweets and commentary across other social media sites poured out from the alt-right. Many said the victims deserved to be gunned down in the streets because they were criminals with a rap sheet. Others said they had it coming just because they were at the protests. That if they didn’t want violence, they should’ve stayed home. Trump defended Kyle during a press briefing saying, “He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like…He probably would have been killed.”
Let’s compare this police and public reaction to the man—self-proclaimed Antifa— who murdered a member of the alt-right group Patriot Prayer, aka Proud Boys in Portland on Saturday, August 29th after the Trump Parade full of MAGA people in trucks. Many were armed and shooting BLM protesters with marbles out of paintball guns and spraying them directly in their faces with mace or pepper spray. Later some of these large vehicles plowed into BLM protesters trying to run them down.
One of these MAGA activists spraying people in their faces with bear mace was named Aaron “Jay” Danielson. This is the man Michael Rienoehl killed after the Trump Parade on August 29th. The video is fuzzy, but eye-witnesses claimed that Aaron sprayed Michael and Michael’s friend with this toxic substance, and then Michael shot Aaron. One of the bullets his the bear mace can and the other was the fatal shot. An eye-witness report claims Aaron was reaching in his waistband for what appeared to be a gun.
Much like Kyle’s self-defense claim, Michael also said he feared for his and his friends’ life, explained in a video he released on Vice News shortly before being murdered by police in Washington on September 3rd. (Video link on The Daily Rose website).
Go to Twitter and other social media outlets. Listen to the news. Do you think people were talking about Michael in terms of being a “national treasure” and a “hero.” Just the opposite. He was a “domestic terrorist,” a “violent extremist,” and he “got what he deserved” when the police gunned him down a few days later, unarmed and eating gummy worms on the way to his truck. No arrest. No trial. Premeditated murder of an unarmed man who had not been proven guilty for murder or sentenced for a crime. Just gunned down in cold blood.
Trump said people on the left are inciting violent riots and characterized Mr. Reinoehl as a “dangerous fugitive” and a “violent agitator.” Quite different rhetoric than what Trump said about Kyle, who killed two people and seriously injured a third.
Many articles lead with the Antifa angle, calling him the “Antifa Shooter,” playing into the repeated propaganda that Antifa are “domestic terrorists” and “violent extremists,” as Trump says over and over. Antifa is short for Anti-Fascist. There is no organization. Anyone who is against fascism is antifa.
Still, interesting how media intensifies this misinformation by calling Michael the “Antifa Shooter,” but nowhere that I’ve seen did they call Kyle the “KKK Shooter” or the “White Supremacist Shooter” or even the “MAGA Shooter.”
Kyle is a “national treasure.”
Michael is a “domestic terrorist.”
Words matter. The way we use language shapes opinions, and public opinion shapes culture.
SOURCES & RESEARCH
Article Links Kenosha:
NYT: Tracking the Suspect in the Fatal Kenosha Shootings
USA Today: Wounded Kenosha medic Gaige Grosskreutz tells his story
ABC News: Man shot by Kyle Rittenhouse during Kenosha protests still remembers the screams
Snopes: What’s True and False about Kyle Rittenhouse’s Alleged Victims
NPR: Trump Defends Kenosha Shooting Suspect
Chicago Tribune: Could Kyle Rittenhouse show he was acting in self-defense…
Vox: Why police encouraged a teenager with a gun to patrol Kenosha streets
Article Links Portland:
The Guardian: Trump Supporters drive through crown and pepper spray protesters
Video of Murder on Twitter from @stillgrey
NYT: How the Fatal Shooting at a Portland Protest Unfolded
NYT: In His Last Hours, Portland Murder Suspect Said He Feared Arrest
Vice News: Video where Michael speaks before his arrest || Article
Washington Post: Suspect in Portland slaying killed when officers moved to arrest him
CNN: Suspect in fatal Portland shooting of right-wing activist killed during attempted arrest, US Marshals say Shooting Suspect Killed During Attempted Arrest
King5(WA): Manner of death for suspected Portland shooter killed by police listed as homicide
Twin City Pioneer Press: Reinoehl and Danielson Both Armed