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Kyle Rittenhouse and the new era of political violence

Shortly after 6 p.m., a woman walking her dog encountered around 100 protesters as they passed a residential area. She told protesters that “this was not the place for it,” according to a police report. Three protesters, all black, started arguing with her, and the woman later told officers that one of them hit her. The dog walker hit the protester. A Jeep Wrangler pulled up and a 29-year-old white man jumped up, brandishing a loaded AR-15 style rifle and advancing towards the group of protesters. A sheriff’s deputy standing nearby reported that the man shouted something like “Get the [expletive] out of our neighborhood!

During the evening, two other men, both white, brandished weapons as protesters walked past their homes. Koerri Washington, a local streamer who followed the protests on the streets that night, also filmed a black man walking alongside a loose column of protesters with an assault rifle, raising his fist. “This is Wisconsin,” Washington, who is black, told me. “I’m pretty sure everyone here has a gun. For the most part, people seem to know how to handle firearms. “

At the time, Wisconsinians’ views on these protests were still uncertain. In mid-June, a Marquette University Law School poll found 61% approved of anti-racial justice protests since Floyd’s death. Responses to the poll differed significantly by race but more significantly by party: 91% of Democrats had a favorable opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement, compared to only 32% of Republicans. And yet, despite prolonged unrest in cities like Minneapolis and Portland, all of which received extensive coverage in conservative media and focused on Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, the poll found that less than half of Wisconsin Republicans had an unfavorable view of Black Lives Matter in mid-June.

Ralph Nudi, then a conservative talk radio host in Kenosha, told me he called the BLM movement “Marxist.” But he also seemed genuinely outraged at Floyd’s murder, and on air he seemed at times trying to figure out for himself what kind of response wouldn’t be totally excluded from his own politics. He hadn’t bothered, Nudi said, that local Kenosha officials, virtually all Democrats, showed up, along with local law enforcement officials, for the June 2 Kneel for Nine. “It was a peaceful movement,” he said. “It’s OK to show your support.”

He was, however, angry when the same people did not show up to the Back the Blue rally in support of law enforcement several weeks later at Civic Center Park, the downtown tree-lined plaza that is the main one. Kenosha public gathering place. A friend of Nudi, the wife of a state soldier, organized the event and invited Nudi to speak. (Madison’s radio host Vicki McKenna was also in attendance.) Blue rally, ”he told me. “Basically, you’re saying Democrats don’t support the cops anymore, period. “

But the possibility, however small, that the event was genuinely non-partisan seemed to have been ruled out from the start by the choice of the organizers of the headlining act: David Clarke, the former county sheriff. from Milwaukee and right-wing celebrity, and perhaps the most political and polarizing figure in American law enforcement. In a 2018 column on, Clarke criticized the “guerrilla warfare tactics of the Democratic Party and the American left” and the Republican elites who were ill-equipped to fight them in “this new era of political warfare.” . This kind of rhetorical posture, which saw anyone on the left of the Republican Party as a treasonable threat to the state, was once a marginal view within the party; in 2020, national Republicans who didn’t marry him seemed the exception rather than the rule.

nytimes Gt

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