On Tuesday night, two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin were killed in the city after taking to the streets to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake. In the aftermath, it seems that this might have occurred because of a Facebook event that was posted on behalf of a group known as “Kenosha Guard”. The group asked for a “call to arms” on the streets of the city in the aftermath of Blake’s shooting. The event was titled, “Armed Citizens to Protect our Lives and Property” and is now being investigated.
Facebook has since removed the event as well as the Kenosha Guard group. The group had more than 3,000 members, while the event had also been promoted by the website Infowars.
A post in the Facebook group did encourage this call to arms in response to the protests, declaring “Any patriots willing to take up arms and defend our city tonight from the evil thugs? No doubt they are currently planning on the next part of the city to burn tonight.”
The shooter, a 17 year old boy named Kyle Rittenhouse has been taken into custody in relation to these two murders. Rittenhouse appeared in several videos that detailed how he considered himself a militia member and that it was his job to protect those in danger.
Whether or not this group played a role in what happened or played a role in Rittenhouse’s actions, the results were bloody with the two deaths and a third person injured. Prior to the page being taken off of Facebook, there was a post that denied the shootings were connected to it. The post called for all of the facts to be collected and that no judgement could be made.
There were many replies to this post, some which supported Rittenhouse, saying his actions were in self-defense of an angry mob of looters. On the other hand, there was a wide range of criticism to the post as well, calling the group out for instigating violent actions in Kenosha.
The protests in Kenosha are just the latest in a summer full of them. In this latest instance, Jacob Blake, a 29 year old man, was shot by police in the back and is now undergoing life saving treatment because of it. Protests in Kenosha directly followed and have resulted in more property damage in the city.
This comes after a number of other protests that brought a wide array of protesters and counter-protesters across the country. One recent example was after a man in New Mexico fired into a crowd of protesters who were trying to take down a statue. Of course, Portland has also seen a large influx of these kinds of groups, though few if any have been killed as of now. Finally, Minneapolis has been impacted with rioting and property damage perhaps the most after the killing of George Floyd this past May.
Members of this Facebook group were not the only people to attend the event with weapons. The Boogaloos, a far right extremist group known for their anti-government values also were in Kenosha during the protests. The group brought between one and two dozen people for each of the three nights of protests with the group seeking to bring security to the businesses of Kenosha.
Rittenhouse’s sentence has yet to be determined while Facebook will likely play a role in uncovering more evidence about his character. The ability for those to organize via the social media platform will most assuredly be monitored more closely than ever now that it might have been partially to blame for helping ignite a shooting.