United States police and the violent far-right

This 28 August 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Kyle Rittenhouse CHARGED with Murder: Kenosha Shootings White Vigilante caught 4 other felonies

The 17-year-old arrested in the fatal shooting of 2 Jacob Blake protesters in Kenosha allegedly killed at least one unarmed man, and could get life in prison for murder. …

The criminal complaint against Kyle Rittenhouse was released Thursday, and it says the first person the Illinois teenager allegedly shot, Joseph Rosenbaum, “appeared to be unarmed for the duration of video” reviewed by investigators.

Prosecutors say Rosenbaum appeared to throw an object at Rittenhouse before the fatal shooting, and a second video apparently shows the object in question was nothing more than a plastic bag.

Rittenhouse is also charged with first-degree intentional homicide of Anthony Huber. Prosecutors say Huber — seen with a skateboard in several videos — approached Rittenhouse, who was lying on his back, and appeared to reach for Rittenhouse’s gun. According to the complaint, Rittenhouse fired a round, sending Huber staggering away before collapsing to the ground and dying from a gunshot wound.

Prosecutors charged Rittenhouse with 5 felonies — the 3 others are 2 counts of first-degree reckless endangerment and one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide.

That last count was for allegedly shooting Gaige Grosskreutz.

By George Zornick in the USA today:

White Vigilantes Have Always Had A Friend In Police

New data shows that far-right vigilantes, often with support from cops, have threatened protesters nearly 500 times since police killed George Floyd.

On Tuesday night in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a 17-year-old named Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly opened fire on anti-racist protesters, killing two people. Video posted to social media captured Rittenhouse roaming the streets in the hours before the shooting as part of a self-styled militia that purportedly was protecting local residents and their property from the protests — and appearing to receive some tacit support from police. Christopher Mathias is a senior reporter at HuffPost covering the far right, and he spoke with Must Reads about his story on how this incident actually has a long historical lineage in the United States.

How common has white vigilante presence been at the anti-racist protests this summer?

Pretty common! The data collected by the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right counted at least 500 times vigilantes or far-right paramilitaries appeared to confront anti-racist protesters since George Floyd was killed in May. That could be an undercount, too.

‌I think one of the strange developments this year is how accustomed we’ve grown to the presence of militia types, Boogaloo bois, Proud Boys and other far-right actors turning up to confront Black Lives Matter protests. Like, what a strange and awful routine: a video emerges of cops killing a Black American, a volatile uprising breaks out with images of burning cop cars and smashed windows, militias turn up to patrol the protests or “protect property,” as they put it, there are clashes with protesters, and then police crack down on protesters. It’s been a long, hot summer.

Videos from the scene in Kenosha showed Rittenhouse talking with police before he allegedly shot three people. To what extent have you seen white vigilantes’ presence accepted by law enforcement?

So the dataset we used found about two dozen examples of law enforcement supporting or encouraging vigilantes and far-right paramilitaries this year. Those are just the ones we know about, of course. Over the last few years, there have been numerous examples of cops showing animosity toward leftist protesters while cozying up to fascists.

‌It’s also worth noting — and this is something I didn’t put in the article — but one of the favorite symbols for modern American cops is the Punisher skull. You see it on their uniforms. (I saw an NYPD cop wearing one when I got arrested earlier this summer.) They have it as tattoos, as bumper stickers on their cars. It’s firmly part of the Blue Lives Matter aesthetic that’s so, so popular with cops in this country. And it’s an ode to a white vigilante! Honestly something we don’t talk about enough.

There’s a long history of this kind of relationship in America — tell us about it.

This country was founded on white supremacy, and that racial hierarchy has, since the country was founded, been maintained and enforced by white vigilantes, always in partnership with the state. Vigilantes captured runaway slaves and massacred Native Americans for land.

The Ku Klux Klan was teeming with cops and government officials in the 1920s, even as it dealt out horrifying acts of terrorism against Black Americans. Then you had “Sundown Towns” across the U.S. during the Jim Crow era — essentially all-white municipalities — that prohibited Black people from being inside their borders after sunset. These kinds of laws, of course, were often enforced violently by vigilantes in partnership with police. What we’re seeing now during this summer’s uprising is an extension of that history.

What’s the danger moving forward that more vigilantes decide to act violently? Are experts concerned about that?

Experts are very concerned about copycat attacks after Kenosha. The rhetoric of right-wing media, the GOP and the White House is also adding fuel to the fire. Over the past few days, the MAGAverse has rushed to defend Kyle Rittenhouse. This will only embolden other vigilantes across the country. Not to mention we’re heading into an election, which is contentious enough on its own, let alone during a pandemic and a historic uprising against police. There are so many explosive elements to our current situation.

Shut down the gun-mad gang who back Trump. PETER FROST stays up late to watch some of the worst aspects of the gun-loving culture that is Trump’s United States.

How K-Pop fans are drowning out #AllLivesMatter hashtags.

In several states, police are cutting ties with domestic violence organizations that support Black Lives Matter. Senior reporter Melissa Jeltsen reported on Embrace — a group in northwestern Wisconsin that posted a Black Lives Matter sign at its four locations — and the backlash it has seen from local law enforcement. Must Reads talked to Jeltsen about her story and how the situation puts survivors and their advocates in a tough position.

‘FACEBOOK HAS BLOOD ON ITS HANDS’ Facebook deliberately took no action against a group on its platform as members plotted an armed takeover of Kenosha, Wisconsin, and encouraged each other to “shoot and kill.” Civil rights organization Muslim Advocates repeatedly highlighted the danger until Facebook took down the page. [HuffPost]

10 thoughts on “United States police and the violent far-right

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