Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot in the back as he was walking away from the police, with no weapon in hand or any kind of physical aggression that might have justified his shooting. Although Blake survived the shooting, he will likely be paralyzed for life, and his six children will suffer the consequences because a police officer was more than willing to pull the trigger.
Justifiably, protests broke out in Kenosha, Wisconsin demanding justice for this latest victim of police violence. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17 year old right-wing militiaman with police sympathies, decided to drive from his home in the neighboring state of Illinois, in order to join other militiamen watching over the protests. In the end, Rittenhouse shot three protesters, killing two and injuring one.
A video of Rittenhouse shooting at Black Lives Matter protesters has been widely circulated on social media. You can clearly see the moment in which one of the protesters is killed and lays unresponsive on the floor. Rittenhouse then walks up to the police with his hands up, his firearm hung around his shoulder and walks right by them.
At no point in the video do the officers ever pull out a weapon on Rittenhouse, or speak to him in a threatening manner. Despite the fact that protesters are warning the police that he just shot at people and is carrying a firearm, Rittenhouse still manages to walk past the police and go home to Illinois. He is not taken into police custody until the very next day.
Rittenhouse, like every other armed militia member that tries to intimidate social justice protesters, should be considered an extremely dangerous individual. Any person who is walking around with assault style rifles and protective gear is clearly ready to engage in violence. Yet, as a white man Rittenhouse was a lesser threat to law enforcement than a person of color walking back to his children.
If Kyle Rittenhouse had been black, he would probably be dead.
Danquirs Franklin was an African American man who was shot by police after he followed an officer’s order to drop his weapon. Tamir Rice was a 12 year old boy who was shot for playing with a toy gun. Philando Castile informed a police officer that he had a legal license to carry a firearm, and was then shot multiple times reaching for his wallet.
None of these individuals posed a direct threat to the well being of the officers or the general public. The biggest threat these individuals presented to the police was the color of their skin.
White privilege in American means that it is far safer to be a militiaman with a gun who is ready to kill than a boy with a toy gun. Even when militias put the well being of law enforcement in danger, the police are more willing to come down harder on protesters demanding racial justice than white militias which threaten “law and order” that right wingers claim to love so much.
During the height of America’s crisis with Covid 19, white anti-lock down protesters were mostly left alone by the state and federal government, even when armed militias stormed the Michigan state capitol and tried to intimidate state lawmakers. Yet when people protested the killing of George Floyd, they were met with tear gassing and other forms of physical violence from the police and federal law enforcement.
Although Kyle Rittenhouse has been charged for the murder and injury to the three people he shot, he would have been treated much worse by law enforcement if he had been a person of color.
In America, white lives matter more than black lives. The same as it’s always been.