Kenosha Killings Preceded by Calls for Armed Vigilantes
Repeated calls for armed vigilantes to travel to Kenosha, Wi., to protect businesses after the police shooting of Jacob Blake spread across social media in the hours before two people were shot to death and a third was wounded during a third night of unrest in the city, the Associated Press reports.
Multiple threads on Facebook and Reddit urged militias and other armed people to head to the protests, researchers at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Lab said. A 17-year-old is charged with homicide, the Washington Post reports.
The burst of violence amid the arrival of self-declared militia members and counterprotesters followed days of tension since police shot Blake on Sunday. That shooting set off protests locally and reverberated across the U.S. In Antioch, Il., 20 miles west of Kenosha, police arrested Kyle Rittenhouse.
They said Rittenhouse was charged with first-degree intentional homicide for both deaths in Wisconsin.
A police complaint filed in Lake County, Il., described Rittenhouse as a fugitive, saying that fled Wisconsin with the intent to avoid prosecution. The Tuesday shooting followed a confrontation between protesters and armed men in Kenosha who said they were protecting a gas station, according to witnesses.
Self-declared militia members had arrived in town before the gunfire, though Sheriff David Beth did not know for sure whether Rittenhouse was part of such a group. Much of Rittenhouse’s Facebook page is devoted to praising law enforcement, with references to Blue Lives Matter, a movement that supports police. He can be seen holding an assault rifle.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers authorized the deployment of 500 members of the National Guard to Kenosha, doubling the number of troops, reports the Associated Press. Protesters were out Wednesday night after a 7 p.m. curfew. The officer who shot Blake was identified as Rusten Sheskey, and the U.S. Justice Department has started a civil-rights investigation of the episode, reports the Wall Street Journal.