Kyle Rittenhouse, Protector of White Supremacy
Kyle Rittenhouse haunts me.
The 17 year old made national headlines when he illegally crossed state lines armed with an AR-15 and shot 3 people at a protest in Kenosha. Two of them died, the last got their arm blown off.
I saw the pictures of him, how young and zealous and misguided he looked. I saw the video footage of him shooting at those people, how they tried to disarm him but failed. He walked triumphantly toward the police with his arms up, the enormous gun swinging against his chest, and multiple police cars drove past him even as the crowd shouted that he had shot people. They let him go back home to his mother and he was peacefully arrested in his home state the next day.
It was more disturbing when I saw the video of police thanking a group of armed white men for being at the protest, asking them if they needed water. He was very visibly among them in that recording, walking in step with a bald, burly officer. They acted like these armed white men, who it turned out were members of white supremacist group the “Boogaloo Bois”, were backup for the police.
The mother of Kyle Rittenhouse gave her son an AR-15 and drove him to a protest where he murdered people, under the guise that they wanted to protect property that didn’t remotely belong to them. The threat of vandalism and looting warranted death to them. But it was not vandalism and looting that they feared, or hated. It was the protest of white supremacy. They couldn’t stand the fact that people were challenging the police’s right to decimate the black population for the sake of the law. In fact, that right was not only limited to police, which they went to great lengths to prove. The right to prey upon black lives and those who supported them, extended to every single white man in this country, or white woman for that matter, judging by the instrumental role his mother played.
Meanwhile, the Kenosha police department does what it is designed to do — makes empty platitudes, barely acknowledges the depth of what happened and why, spins the truth to fit their own skewed narrative. When all is said and done, the police must look competent, heroic and well-meaning. The police must do what it takes to protect themselves and their principles from any semblance of justice. The mayor must endorse and support the police, and he did. The president must endorse and support the police, and he did. The police must never be held accountable for their actions, they must never admit to their true nature and true motives.
And through it all, the question of Kyle Rittenhouse is forgotten as he sits comfortably in a juvenile detention center and not in jail. Black men his age have been thrown in jail for far, far less, the most famous case being Kalief Browder, who was held pre-trial on Riker’s Island accused of stealing a backpack that he never stole, took his own life after 3 years in that jail. It was reported that Kyle Rittenhouse did not show up to court for his hearing, so the judge gave him a month to comply. In the alternate universe of black offenders, people are often punished for not showing up to a hearing. It’s a huge part of why they keep them in jail instead of letting them go home, to ensure that when time comes to see the judge, the risk of not showing up is definitively eliminated. Another reason why they get held in jail is because they can’t afford bail, usually exorbitant amounts for poor people who commit crimes due to their poverty in the first place.
But that wouldn’t have been an issue for Kyle Rittenhouse. A “christian” crowdfunding site allowed his supporters to raise over $300,000 for him in a few short days, adding comments about how brave he was and how proud they were of him. Conservative pundit Ann Coulter tweeted that she wished he were her President, in response to someone’s tweet about wishing he were their bodyguard. The President himself refused to denounce this young man, lamenting instead that the police are “under siege”.
The police who, in the last white supremacist teen shooter case, fed Dylan Roof some Burger King after he massacred 9 black people in a church. The police who offered water to white supremacist armed militia at a protest in honor of an innocent black father that the police paralyzed. They are inexplicably under siege.
The threads of connection are so overt that they are visible to all, but a large cross-section of the population are not willing to admit their existence. This intentional blindness plagues perhaps the majority of police, their unions, elected officials, the court system, and members of the general public. Specimen like Kyle Rittenhouse are the most extreme by-product of society’s financial investment in racism. The boy himself aspired to be a policeman, he supported Trump and “Blue Lives Matter”.Rusten Sheskey, the officer whose actions sparked the Kenosha protests in the first place, also supported Blue Lives Matter, the flag of the racist counter-movement being his profile picture on Facebook. Kyle Rittenhouse would have grown up to be Rusten Sheskey. Actually, he was only one birthday away from being Rusten Sheskey, having a badge of authority, a licensed firearm, and impunity for violence.
As fate would have it though, his moment of glory came early. And the far right accepted him with open arms — “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” A folk hero. A patriot. A Protector of Property. It is nothing new for them; the concept of “property” has always taken precedence over humanity, over “people”. For such a long time people, black people, were considered “property”, and folks went to war to protect that concept, folks to this day defend that concept as a necessary evil. It seems that many evils are necessary for the greatness of these United States.The parallel is self-evident.
Kyle Rittenhouse intentionally went to war to protect property and a status quo that was his by his association to whiteness — the ultimate manifestation of a superiority complex passed down through generations. He inherited hatred and bigotry as the family heirloom. And he is not alone. All of his sympathizers, ranging in education level, social status and even political affiliation, share the racist worldview that motivates such an act.
It is scary to think of how seamlessly Kyle Rittenhouse would have entered the police force. All the black and brown people he might have brutalized. All the police misconduct cases he would have seen dismissed. All the pointless tickets and charges he would have written up to meet a quota. The paid administrative leave he would have received had he done the same thing in a blue uniform. The way he would have risen through the ranks in the police force and become the sheriff one day, so it could be him in the press conference justifying the actions of his officers.
It is important to this country to uphold white supremacist ideology and demonize black liberation. It is important to respect a police culture that black people are terrified of. It is normal for black parents to have serious conversations with their children on how to be less of a threat in the eyes of policemen. It is necessary for black people to be as pleasant and calm and compliant and communicative as possible to hostile cops, if they wish to survive the encounter.
The uniform would have fit Kyle Rittenhouse like a glove. After all, the FBI warned back in 2010 that white supremacist elements run rampant in the police, yet they insist that our concerns are unfounded.
If Blue Lives Matter lunacy isn’t the “force” behind law enforcement, I don’t know what is.