When I was a police investigator for the Pennsylvania State Police, I found the job to be very like my work in my 10 years as a journalist.
The police officer and the news reporter both seek the truth. We both ask the following questions: Who, What, Where, When, How and, in my view the most important question, WHY. I found in both jobs it wasn’t enough to know WHAT you were seeing, but WHY you were seeing it.
The Clearfield Municipal Authority was once thinking about building a massive public works project on Moose Creek Dam. Was it because Clearfield needed the water? Was it because authority members wanted to give friends and relatives rich contracts? Was it because the engineering firm designing the project practically ran the authority meetings? Maybe a little of each?
In police work, “why” is codified in law and in proof. Intent is key in the findings of guilt or innocence. Did the person do something “intentionally,” “recklessly” or “carelessly?”
When you are evaluating information, to get to facts, you need to know the “why.”
Kyle Rittenhouse is a 17 year old shooter from Antioch, Illinois, who traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, armed with a loaded assault rifle. FACT. Why?
In order to commit five felonies and a misdemeanor, in my world, you have to TRY. Meaning? You’re doing SOMETHING… on purpose. Have YOU committed five felonies? Why?
The Kenosha demonstrations were over the police shooting of an unarmed man, Jacob Blake. The protests were marked by daily peaceful protesting followed by confrontations with law enforcement and rioting at night.
Kyle Rittenhouse appears to have been responding to the protest as part of some number of armed militia members.
There exists a video clip of Rittenhouse, shown with members of a group earlier in the evening, getting bottles of water from a law enforcement officer in an armored vehicle. The officer thanks the armed men for their help, though they are clearly civilians — armed civilians — in violation of the city’s 8 p.m. curfew.
“We appreciate you guys,” the officer says. “We really do.”
Let’s say I was, just spitballing here, at a riot in Penn State some years ago and I was in riot gear and some kid is calling me a Nazi. And I look to my left and a BOY is carrying an assault rifle around. He’d have been on the ground so fast his eyes would have sparkled. But maybe my PSP training was of a higher caliber.
Your president, the day after the Rittenhouse shootings, said this:
“That was an interesting situation,” he said at a coronavirus task force briefing. “He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like, and he fell, and then they very violently attacked him.”
“He was in very big trouble. He probably would’ve been killed, but it’s under investigation.”
In defending a supporter of his, the president never mentioned that the boy had already shot and killed one unarmed person. Instead, he blamed “left-wing political violence.”
To me, a trained journalist AND a trained police officer, asking the question, “Why?” the problem here isn’t that unarmed black people are confronting white guys with guns. It’s that militia types are self-deputizing and acting illegally in a law enforcement capacity. The actions of these militia members are illegal, never mind the cynical thinking of arming yourself and going to a Black Lives Matter protest.
The president here BLAMES the VICTIMS.
Over on Fox, Tucker Carlson said this:
“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?”
Tucker does something clever here. He runs video of enraged protesters lighting something that looks like a piece of cloth on fire and throwing it over a chain link fence. Same clip, protesters are saying things like “Kill the police back.” For a Fox viewer, that’s heady stuff. But it isn’t shooting. Or looting.
Carlson is positing, blaming the local government here, that, to paraphrase, “SOMEONE had to maintain order.” The problem with Carlson’s argument, emotional as it is, is that it is illegal for someone not the police to do so. To my reckoning, there are plenty of police in the streets in this instance.
Ann Coulter said this:
“I want him (Rittenhouse) as my president.”
She wants a 17 year old shooter to be president. When the president said he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose one vote… well… Ann Coulter is actually calling for it. That’s madness.
The president cannot run on a “Law & Order” platform while he defends criminals on his side and condemns criminals on the other.
I suspect, and this is my opinion, that the militia groups here, just like in Charleston and other places, have gone there for hateful reasons and to engage, fully armed, against unarmed black people. I’m saying you will find a racist attitude underlying these kinds of actions.
The president stokes this, inflames this, and defends this.
When white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, killing one and injuring 19 others, the president said there were “Good people on both sides.”
Trump cannot run on a law and order message when he is fomenting violent crime. Tucker Carlson and Ann Coulter should be run off Fox for supporting violent criminals and any decent journalist should resign from Fox’s news division because they are the sheep’s clothing that the fox wears. They are the ones who give Fox a shred of credibility so their screeching opinion merchants at night can inflame their viewers to hatred. That’s my informed opinion.
Black people are protesting because they want justice.
Every one of these horrible videos I watch flies in the face of proper police training. You don’t shoot people in the back. You don’t shoot a guy you pulled over for DUI in the back as he runs away when you know who he is, you have his car, and he’s been with you doing all your tests for 45 minutes. Flight, in itself, we were taught at the state police academy, is not an escalation of force.
You do not shoot a man in the back seven times, point blank range, holding him by his t-shirt, in front of his three kids in the back seat of a car when you can’t identify the crime the man committed and later claim he “had a knife” in his car. Anyone have a knife in their car? In your pocket? That man was not holding a knife. He was not brandishing a knife. He was not even facing the officer. If he was coming at him, brandishing a knife, and if the officer commands him to stop and he doesn’t… Different story. But those aren’t the facts.
You don’t need to defund the police. You need to have a higher standard of training, like I got with the PSP, uniform, across the country. And that’s expensive. You gotta fund that. I lived there at the academy for six months. I studied the constitution and where police powers come from. I studied the FBI use of force continuum and its application to real world situations.
When Rodney King was surrounded by seven jackals beating him senselessly on the ground with riot batons, I could think of no police training video I had ever seen where that was LEGAL.
When Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck, it was illegal.
And when a heavily armed boy kills in the streets, it’s illegal.
If the Kenosha police had the PSP training I had? We wouldn’t be here.
If the president and the right wing media chamber didn’t support such criminals and instead condemned such killings, we wouldn’t be here.
Trump cannot have it both ways. It is an affront to my sense of decency that he can defend racists and murderers. It is galling to run on a law and order message while pouring gas on the fire.
There will be a trial for Kyle Rittenhouse, who was illegally in possession of a dangerous weapon, who intentionally loaded the weapon, crossed state lines, went to a protest, aimed at and killed a man shooting him five times. When he was pursued, he killed another unarmed man.
Kyle Rittenhouse may well have racist motivations. That might help explain the “why.” A trial will tell. But even if he did not have such motivations, he still brought an assault rifle to a protest. He chose to. Intentionally. He’s a BOY. A stupid BOY. Raised, I’m betting and this is a guess, in hate.
He’s certainly a killer.
And THIS is Donald Trump’s America. This is what your president SUPPORTS and defends. He FEEDS hate.
Law and order. Yeah, right.
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