Violence broke out late Tuesday night during a spat of BLM infighting in Kenosha, Wis., leaving one critically wounded and two dead after a small band of armed men carrying rifles and wearing symbols affiliated with the Libertarian Party found themselves the target of a violent mob.
The multiracial libertarian group had been initially supportive of the BLM rioters, immersing themselves in the crowd and clenching their fists while repeating various phrases associated with the movement. "As long as you f--- with the government and not with each other, we are with you. No lives can matter until black lives matter!" one of the men said, the Libertarian Party's porcupine symbol emblazoned on his shirt. The group then proceeded to march down the road, stopping at a boarded up gas station and milling about as protestors marched by.
The crowds swelled as the night went on, becoming more confident and aggressive. A band of rioters went into the gas station parking lot to harass the armed libertarians, enraged that they would not be able to loot and vandalize as they pleased. One white rioter walked right up to the armed men and proceeded to taunt them, calling them the n-word. "Shoot me n----! Shoot me n----! Bust on me n---- fo' real!"
The situation escalated, and that is exactly what happened.
The increasingly aggravated crowd advanced on the libertarians as they ceded ground to appease the crowd. The libertarians eventually fled the location and became separated as the rioters ran after them. Footage during this time frame is scarce, but one recording shows the fate of the man who had taunted the armed group earlier. He is seen with his shirt tied around his face while sprinting across a different parking lot in pursuit of one of the armed men later identified as 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse. A gunshot is heard as Rittenhouse is chased through the lot, his arms down at his sides, gun pointing at the ground. The 17-year-old then slows to a stop, possibly alarmed by the gunfire. He turns around just in time to see his assailant whose arms are raised mid-tackle. The 17-year-old raises his gun and fires four shots, dropping his assailant with a shot to the head. Rittenhouse circles a car before coming back to the downed assailant while three additional shots are heard (unconfirmed origin, possibly warning shots from Rittenhouse). Rittenhouse checks on his assailant's condition and pulls out his phone, calling the authorities. A small crowd begins to converge on his location, prompting the 17-year-old to flee again in fear. Members of the crowd attempt to give medical treatment to the still conscious assailant, accusing each other of the shooting.
Additional footage shows Rittenhouse being chased down the street toward the police blockade, clutching his rifle as dozens of rioters run after him in hot pursuit. The 17-year-old receives various blows to the head from rioters before being knocked to the ground. Rioters immediately swarm, shouting "Get his ass!" Rittenhouse, sprawled on the ground, manages to seize his rifle, and sit up just in time to fire twice at a man in a mid-air attempt to kick his head, missing both shots. The assailant runs off uninjured as a second assailant slams a skateboard into Rittenhouse's head and attempts to steal the rifle. A single shot is fired into the second assailant's midsection as he raises the skateboard a second time, forcing the assailant to release the rifle and drop the skateboard before taking a few steps and collapsing to the ground. A third assailant, armed with a handgun, feigns surrender by throwing his hands up. Upon seeing his opportunity to steal the rifle, the third assailant lunges forward only to be shot in the arm, subsequently running to the side of the street and demanding medical attention (it was probably quite the wait, given his fellow rioters' insistence on blocking roads with dumpsters earlier that night). The mob scatters during the third assailant's failure, and distant shots are heard, presumably off camera. Rittenhouse stands up clutching his rifle and slowly begins walking down the street toward a blockade of emergency vehicles several blocks away. Nine close shots are heard in bursts of three (possibly warning shots or pepper balls fired off camera), prompting Rittenhouse to briefly turn around before resuming his march. He picks up the pace as police vehicles arrive ahead of him and members of the scattered mob cry for someone to "Shoot him!" The 17-year-old raises his arms, surrendering to the police vehicles as the anti-police BLM rioters yell at the police to arrest him.
Hours later, video surfaced of Rittenhouse being interviewed by a citizen-journalist prior to the escalation. Rittenhouse complains of having been pepper-sprayed by a BLM crowd member earlier that night before cutting the interview short to offer his services as an Emergency Medical Technician to BLM crowd members limping down the sidewalk.
There seems to have been miscommunication among law enforcement officials, as the Kenosha County sheriff, David Beth, told local media that no one had been apprehended and that the search was ongoing, despite video clearly showing Rittenhouse surrendering himself to police. He must have been released without charges initially, as Rittenhouse was later arrested at his home nearby in Illinois, a criminal complaint falsely claiming that he had attempted to flee to escape charges.
Wisconsin does not have a stand-your-ground law, but the circumstances of the shooting show clear self-defense while retreating from a real threat. Members of the mob repeatedly threatened Rittenhouse, incited other members to attack him, even to shoot him. Rittenhouse had been pepper-sprayed, repeatedly bludgeoned on the head, and pursued over long distances before making it to law enforcement officers. Throughout the ordeal, he fired only at active threats within striking range, even managing to shoot his final assailant in the arm that was holding a handgun after the assailant feigned surrender.
Members of the media are currently calling him a vigilante to muddy the waters. Rittenhouse was not attempting to enforce any laws, nor did he shoot anyone to defend property. The only vigilantes shown in the videos are the ones who attack the 17-year-old as he attempts to turn himself in to the authorities. The authorities, turning a blind eye to adult would-be murderers, are more inclined to charge a minor for clear-cut self-defense than to hold the aggressors responsible. If Rittenhouse's first-degree homicide charges stick, it will be an indictment of the American judicial system and the voters and a mortal blow to the Second Amendment.
Chanting BLM's slogans, repeating their hand gestures, and offering them medical assistance did not save Rittenhouse from their violence or from being called a white supremacist online. Genuflecting to the will of a collectivist mob failed to save the young libertarian; guns did not fail, and every American should know it.