Civil rights leaders have united to condemn violence against protesters from white militias and the cops who enable them.
On Thursday, members of the NAACP, National Action Network, National Urban League and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released a statement addressing the two people who were shot and killed on Tuesday at a protest for Jacob Blake. Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested for the killings and was charged with first-degree intentional homicide. Rittenhouse’s social media accounts show that he’s pro-Donald Trump and pro-police with various posts about “Blue Lives Matter“.
“Tuesday night, two protesters who were advocating for accountability following the horrific police shooting of Jacob Blake were allegedly shot and killed by a 17-year-old associated with a white militia group,” read the statement from the civil rights leaders. “We are outraged by these killings. The ability of a minor to travel from another state at the urging of adult white supremacists organizing on Facebook highlights the corrosive and dangerous convergence of race, police violence, and the presence of these violent groups.”
“In light of the fact that the suspect apparently crossed state lines in order to commit this crime, the federal government should launch an investigation to determine whether he was involved in an interstate criminal conspiracy,” the statement added.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks extremist activity, there were militia members at the protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin where Jacob Blake was shot seven times and reportedly paralyzed by Officer Rusten Sheskey. Although the ADL, didn’t find direct links between Rittenhouse and extremist groups on social media, the 17-year-old was very clearly brandishing an assault rifle in photos, and in his TikTok bio, he wrote “Bruh I’m just tryna be famous. Trump 2020. BLUE LIVES MATTR.”
According to BuzzFeed News, Rittenhouse was also a former member of the Lindenhurst, Grayslake, Hainesville Police Department’s Public Safety Cadet Program. A description recently taken down from the department’s website explained that the program “offers boys and girls the opportunity to explore a career in law enforcement” via “hands-on career activities,” such as riding along with cops on patrol and firearms training.
During the Jacob Blake protests in Kenosha, Rittenhouse acted as an armed vigilante, walking the streets with a gun. Videos have also captured him fraternizing with the cops and attempting to get their attention. Now, Rittenhouse faces charges for the killing of two people — a 26-year-old from Silver Lake, Wisconsin, and a 36-year-old from Kenosha. A third person was also seriously injured during the shooting, according to CNN.
“We are equally outraged by videos showing Kenosha Police Department Officers exhibiting camaraderie toward militia members – who were out in violation of the curfew before the shootings — and also seemingly ignoring protesters who tried to identify the shooter in this incident,” the statement from civil rights leaders continued. “Police solidarity with white militia members is abhorrent and intolerable – and it represents a highly dangerous threat to the lives and rights of people of color.”
The leaders called on Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul “to immediately investigate and prosecute these killings, the shooting of Mr. Blake, and the increasingly pervasive issue of armed white militia members confronting and attacking protesters demanding police accountability.”
Leaders also demand the immediate removal of Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis. In a press conference, Miskinis seemingly blamed protesters for the shootings that occurred. He said that if people hadn’t violated curfew, “perhaps the situation that unfolded would not have happened.” He added, “It is the persons who were involved after the legal time, involved in illegal activity, that brought violence to this community.”
Lastly, their statement called out the “prevalence of armed white militia groups organizing” on Facebook. They demanded Facebook make moves to “ensure that its platform is not used to foment violence and hatred — and to take immediate and comprehensive action to put an end to groups using its services to organize activities that perpetuate racism and cause harm.”