More National Guard Troops Could Be On Their Way To Kenosha

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tags: Protest, policing

Since 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday evening, the city’s streets have been filled with demonstrations. Then, on Tuesday night, two people were killed and one was injured after a gunman shot into a crowd of protesters. As of Wednesday afternoon, a 17-year-old Illinois resident had been arrested in connection with the shootings and charged with homicide. The suspect, Kyle Rittenhouse, who is white, seems to have been part of a group of armed men that had been guarding a local gas station and “verbally sparred” with protesters.

Blake was shot by police answering a domestic call and is currently in the ICU where, according to his father Jacob Blake Sr., “he is paralyzed from the waist down.” In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Blake Sr. said doctors are uncertain whether the paralysis will be permanent, and emphasized that his son now has “eight holes in his body.”

Blake’s shooting was caught on video and proceeded to go viral, leading to demonstrations in Kenosha and across Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers imposed an 8 p.m. curfew on Monday, and later extended it in an attempt to tamp down on the growing protests. Tuesday’s shooting occurred after National Guard troops were sent to Kenosha and, according to residents and protesters, used teargas, rubber bullets and smoke bombs to disperse the crowds. 

The idea that armed vigilantes may be patrolling the streets of Kenosha, in addition to a heightened police and federal presence, will likely only intensify tension there. According to CBC, prior to Tuesday’s shooting, witnesses recall seeing Rittenhouse walking past the police carrying a semi-automatic rifle over his shoulder amid calls for his arrest from those nearby. While protesters march to demand that the police keep them safe, armed militias have reportedly begun to patrol the streets. “They’re like a vigilante group,” said Kenosha Sheriff David Beth.

The presence of armed far-right militia members at police brutality demonstrations has increased in the last few months, and The Intercept reports that many have been well received by local law enforcement. In an interview with the site, Noël Cazenave, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut, said, “There’s a very close connection historically between the police and vigilantes in the United States….vigilante mobs tend to flare up in reaction to a perceived increase in the power held by Black people.”  

Read entire article at Vanity Fair

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