Socialist Worker

Protests rage across US following shootings

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2720

Protest for Jacob Blake

Jacob Blake protest in the United States (Pic: Flickr/Ken Fager)


Protests have swept Kenosha, Wisconsin, after a far right gunman shot down protesters against police violence. Seventeen year old Kyle Rittenhouse killed Anthony Huber and Joseph “Jojo” Rosenbaum and injured another man on Tuesday.

After the shootings, Rittenhouse was allowed to pass through police lines with his assault rifle and return to his home in Illinois, where he was later arrested.

Protests have raged in Kenosha since Sunday night when a police officer—now named as Rusten Sheskey— shot a black man called Jacob Blake seven times in the back.

Blake is currently in a stable condition in hospital, but his lawyer reports that due to damage to his spinal cord Blake will need a “miracle” to walk again.

Armed

On Tuesday night, Democrat governor Tony Evers said he would send more National Guard troops to Kenosha to protect state buildings. A right wing paramilitary group, the Kenosha Guard, called for armed volunteers to come to the city and back the police. Rittenhouse was one of those who swelled their ranks.

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A video captures Rittenhouse seemingly shooting someone in the head. He is then chased by the crowd and another video shows Huber, armed with only a skateboard, tackling Rittenhouse. Huber was later shot dead.

In an interview that Rittenhouse gave just before he carried out the murders, he told a journalist that he was carrying a weapon because, “part of my job also is to protect people. If someone is hurt, I'm running into harm's way”.

On his Facebook profile, Rittenhouse made numerous posts about his worship of the police. On his profile picture he had a "Blue lives matter" pro-police filter.

And on his Instagram, he had Trump 2020 as part of his profile description.

In January, Rittenhouse attended a Trump rally in Iowa and can be seen on video sitting in the front row only a few feet away from the president.

Protest

Protesters have refused to be cowed by violence and have continued to take to the streets in the city.

A Wisconsin prison administration building was totally destroyed and burned in Kenosha.

On one of the building walls was painted with the slogan ′′Are you listening yet?".

And protests have swept other cities. The governor of Minnesota declared a state of emergency in the city of Minneapolis after protests on Wednesday night, following the death of a black man who police say shot himself.

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This is the city where a police officer murdered George Floyd in May.

On Wednesday, police in Portland, Oregon, declared a demonstration near a U.S. immigration agency building as an “unlawful gathering”, ordering the crowds to disperse. Police said they made 11 arrests in the city, which has been the scene of weeks of anti-racism protests and unrest.

In Oakland, California, demonstrators started a fire at the Alameda Superior Court as they protested in solidarity with Wisconsin anti-racists on Wednesday.

Accountable

After the shooting of Blake, the basketball team the Milwaukee Bucks— situated near Kenosha—have called off their games in protest.

They released a statement that said, "We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable."

And players in The Women's National Basketball Association wore shirts with seven bullet holes in them and took the knee at a basketball court in Florida.

The tennis player Naomi Osaka pulled out of her scheduled match stating that, “as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis."

The Black Lives Matter protests that began in May after the murder of George Floyd are far from over.


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