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Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha,WI police officer. I have read comments all over the internet stating that he should have complied. If he had just stopped, the police wouldn’t have shot him. Seven times. Seven times? No taser was used as the police said that they didn’t work. The police made sure to get a statement from Blake that he had a knife in his car. Whether the police knew this at the time isn’t confirmed.
Instead of tackling him, wrestling him to the ground, calling for backup, firing a warning shot, shooting him once, or just letting him go and calling in the car to be stopped, they shot him in the back seven times. The reaction by the black community was predictable. Kenosha is burning.
I’ve had so many conversations with white and black people who say the same thing. “It’s unfortunate what happened, but burning down business isn’t going to solve anything and it just hurts business owners who had nothing to do with Blake getting shot.” They have a point. I was in downtown Chicago this afternoon and the Walgreen’s on Clark St. is boarded up three weeks after the last uprising.
As usual in these stories we have a contrast in how different races are treated, but this one was especially brazen. A seventeen year old kid from Antioch, IL decided he had enough. Kenosha Wisconsin is a 21.1 mile drive from Antioch. Seventeen year old Kyle Rittenhouse grabbed “his” rifle, jumped in “his” car, and drove to Kenosha to protect the streets and local business owners.
I used quotes around the word “his”on purpose. Wisconsin is an open carry state, but Illinois is not. In fact a citizen needs a FOID card in Illinois to purchase a gun, and you have to be 21 years of age to get a FOID card. Where did Kyle get this weapon? Whose car did he drive to Kenosha? Where were his parents? It doesn’t stop there. If you are under the age of 18 in Wisconsin, you can only use a long gun for hunting.
So we have a 17 year old kid who drove to Wisconsin in the middle of the night with a long gun in a state where he couldn’t legally do so. That would be enough, but there’s more. He shot and killed two people and injured a third. There’s a video of him walking down the street towards police with his hands raised. What do the police do? Took him to Burger King…wait that’s another white teenage murderer I’m thinking of in that example. They gave him a bottle of water.
Kyle was arrested in Antioch which means that the police in Kenosha did not stop, detain, question, or arrest him. He wasn’t considered a suspect. Think about that for a minute. An unarmed black man is shot in the back seven times, while an illegally armed white minor is not even questioned.
You would think that there would be unanimity about Kyle’s guilt. Let me modify that sentence. You would think there would be unanimity about Kyle’s guilt if FoxNews, and far right-wing radio, did not exist. That’s correct. Tucker Carlson is quoted as saying “So are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?” That sounds like Carlson is justifying Kyle’s actions. That sounds like Carlson is justifying murder. The far scarier question is how many people feel like Carlson? How many Kyle’s are out there who will do the same thing?
Here’s the larger question. Why couldn’t Jacob Blake have been arrested like Kyle Rittenhouse? Why was an unarmed Jacob Blake viewed as a threat that could only be neutralized with deadly force while a Kyle Rittenhouse armed with a rifle was viewed with zero suspicion?
Here’s a picture of Jacob Blake holding his son.
Here’s a picture of Kyle Rittenhouse.
Looking strictly at the outcome, who was the greater threat? Was race a factor in how the police reacted so differently? Can we ever move beyond our current race based society?