Media Distorting Shooting Event During Riot In Kenosha [OPINION]
Kenosha, Wisconsin is the site of the newest national outrage after yet another police shooting of an African American male, 29-year-old Jacob Blake.
On August 24, Blake went to his former girlfriend's home when she called police to the scene at 5:11 p.m. She accused Blake of violating a stay-away order and creating a domestic disturbance, the nature of which has still not been made clear to the public.
What eyewitnesses and video shows next is that Blake and officers wrestled, and Blake ignored officers' orders to remain still in order to place him under arrest. An attempt to taze him was initiated and failed. He walked around the front of a minivan (presumably his) to the driver's door where he bent and reached in. Blake's three children (ages three, five and eight) were in the van watching. Officer Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department, grabbed the bottom of Blake's tank top and fired seven times into Blake's back.
Federal and Wisconsin state investigations are ongoing.
The video of the incident went viral, and Americans made an almost uniform reaction of shock and outrage. Left or right, white or Black, few who wrote on social media or professionally on media sites seemed to understand the need for the shooting of Blake; additionally, Sheskey was aware that he was just several feet from Blake's small children, who were seatbelted in the second and third rows of the van.
The city took on the brunt of the expected rage from Black Lives Matter protesters, rioters, arsonists, vandals, looters and anarchists. Local Wisconsinites and many other Americans watched it all unfold on TV in awe of what was, until that point, a relatively peaceful community. We even watched a cop knocked unconscious from a brick thrown off his head while a crowd surrounded him.
The Kenosha officials and liberal Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers have decided to allow municipal vehicles set aflame, stores looted and burned, vandalism, arson, felony assault and other serious crimes to simply go unchallenged.
Many Americans are fed up with this style of government indifference to the kind of reaction that brings about destruction. The polls are starting to reflect this and if the government chooses not to protect life and property, the Second Amendment allows for the citizenry to do just that.
Kyle Rittenhouse is a 17-year-old young man who lives at home with his parents in Antioch, Illinois, which is a small town on the Wisconsin state line and 16 miles from Kenosha. After watching the nearby chaos in the news, Rittenhouse decided to help protect the properties of Kenosha's small businesses under attack.
Rittenhouse is now accused of first-degree murder, fleeing prosecution, and other charges in Kenosha.
The national mainstream media is already helping Americans decide how he should be viewed by our society.
"Kyle Rittenhouse was fixated on supporting police before the deadly shootings." – Washington Post
"It's a thing. A meme. Make-believe soldiers strap on their big guns to show who's boss." – Editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times
"Kyle Rittenhouse – the teen charged with first-degree homicide over the shooting of three people at Kenosha protests – was obsessed with Blue Lives Matter and appeared 'on-edge' before shots rang out." – Insider.com
"Teen charged in killings of BLM protesters considered himself a militia member." – The Guardian
Despite what many of you have learned through these mainstream media outlets, I am going to offer a different narrative of what happened on Tuesday night based on my interpretations of video from the scene.
I'm also reminded of America's newest rich kid Nicholas Sandmann, who was slandered and lied about by the Washington Post ($250 million payout), CNN ($257 million), and others, and it cost them much to settle – thought to be in the $400 million range. I see some parallels here.
The only charge that appears to be relatively close to a fact so far is that Rittenhouse was under 18 years of age and was carrying an AR-15 rifle. Since he isn't 18, he arguably faces a state statute that says anyone under 18 who "goes armed" with any deadly weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
However, a lawyer who specializes in gun rights, attorney John Monroe, told the Milwaukee Sentinal-Journal that the exceptions in the statute for rifles and shotguns intended for 16 and 17-old hunters "could apply."
Rittenhouse's movements that night are already well documented as he was interviewed earlier in the night by journalists and he was seen on dozens of phone camera-captured videos that chronologically give little room for denying much on that night.
Rittenhouse, with several other armed young men, are shown outside of a boarded-up automotive repair shop whose owners obviously prepared for assaults on the building. The Kenosha Police drove by in armored vehicles and an officer over the vehicle's loudspeaker is heard thanking the volunteers for helping to provide security. Rittenhouse was even offered a bottle of water from the officers in the vehicle who said, "We really appreciate you guys, we really do."
Next, the first shooting is caught on video in a lower-quality segment. The first protester to fall, presumably by Rittenhouse, appears to throw some object at Rittenhouse while aggressively chasing him around the repair shop lot. Other protesters are visible as they run past the pair in a direction consistent to entrap Rittenhouse from being able to escape. One video shows Rittenhouse's escape route is blocked by a parked van.
They both then disappear behind some vehicles parked in the repair shop's parking lot which Rittenhouse was protecting. Shots are then heard and the man who chased Rittenhouse was seen lying on the ground between two of the vehicles. He was mortally wounded with a shot to his head.
As Rittenhouse is next documented to run in the direction of the police, he is chased by a mob of protesters and looters. He is punched in the head by one of the several dozen who are chasing him. After running for some 20 more yards, Rittenhouse then falls to the ground in the middle of a well-lit intersection.
He is surrounded and set upon by multiple attackers. As he tried to get up, the first attacker leaped toward him and is shot at twice just before he landed on Rittenhouse. The shots missed and the attacker wisely decided to stay back from that point. The second assailant then tried to smash Rittenhouse in his head with the butt end of his skateboard. He is then fatally wounded, presumably by Rittenhouse, with a shot to his upper torso.
As others run away, a dozen or so still look to get to the shooter in a circular pattern around Rittenhouse, he appears to quickly assess them as not being the threat calling for lethal action. A third assailant quickly approached Rittenhouse and then brandished a pistol while briefly hesitating some 8-12 feet from Rittenhouse, who appeared to shoot that man in the same arm holding the gun.
Rittenhouse next found an opportunity to get on his feet and immediately ran to the police, who were in their vehicles on the same street some three blocks away with their sirens and lights on. Rittenhouse had his hands raised and his rifles slung around his shoulder in view as he walked toward the police.
He was apparently recognized by the same police who earlier gave him water and praised his volunteering, and there the audio in the video allowed the viewer to hear that he is instructed to "get off the streets" and told to "go home."
Gaige P. Grosskreutz, 26, is the protester who also chased Rittenhouse and who pointed a handgun at him before being shot in the arm. Grosskreutz has been characterized by the media as being a "paramedic," but some outlets are reporting that he is also an activist for the communist People's Revolution Movement.
The first to fall allegedly at the hands of Rittenhouse was Joseph "Jojo" Rosenbaum, 36, a convicted sex offender and a native of Texas who moved away from his troubled southwest history to Kenosha last year. Rosenbaum was seen on the video aggressively chasing Rittenhouse and throwing objects at him while in pursuit before being fatally shot on private property.
This was apparently not the first violent altercation for Rosenbaum that night as Chelsea Dominguez, a friend of his, wrote about it on the GoFundMe page for covering his burial.
While donating $20, Dominguez wrote:
The Guardian also said the violence was because "white vigilante-type agitators shot at Black Lives Matter protesters." Think about that as you go back and watch the 36-year-old sex offender and violent protester Jojo Rosenbaum chase down the 17-year-old Rittenhouse and savagely throw hard objects at him as he closed in on him.
This dishonest trial-by-media has not been working out for the sake of justice. It is inciting violence and division in America. I question the objective here.
I'm sorry anybody had to die on Tuesday night in Kenosha, but those who did fall were willing combatants and who initiated clear violence. I cannot characterize them as victims, nor can I honestly call Kyle Rittenhouse, who attempted to flee in each case, a murderer.
President Trump's words were condemned when he said "the media is the enemy of the American people." Well, honestly they do seem to be the enemy of Kyle Rittenbaum to me.
Editor's Note: This article previously referred to Rosenbaum as a "registered" sex offender, but while his name has not been found in sex offender registries, his conviction for sexual offenses can be found on his record at the Arizona Department of Corrections database if you search for his name. As such, the language has been changed to "convicted sex offender." In addition, a reference to Gaige Grosskreutz being a "convicted felon" has been removed because no record of a felony conviction could be found.
Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.