There's a whole lot of confusion surrounding events in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the past few days. What's clear is that after police shot a man there, rioters torched numerous businesses in the town, and appear to have tried to intimidate townsfolk. This led to an armed encounter on Tuesday evening in which two rioters were shot dead and at least one was severely injured (possibly maimed for life, if photographs of his wound are anything to go by).
The young man responsible for the shooting, Kyle Rittenhouse, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder, but whether he committed an offense or acted in self-defense will be up to the courts to decide. He's already being elevated to the status of an ideological martyr by some partisan observers, which is not helpful to him or anyone else. In the absence of more detailed information, it's impossible for outsiders like ourselves to be sure what happened.
Nevertheless, there are very important lessons to be learned from this incident, lessons that affect the safety and security of every one of us. I'll attempt a first-pass analysis here, and follow up with more detailed discussion as and when more information emerges.
First, what was Mr. Rittenhouse doing in the area? He lived twelve miles away, in another state. It's been said that he was a member of "a local militia group". If so, how many of them were also from outside Kenosha, and what were all of them doing there? It's one thing for local residents to defend their own property and families from riots and protests. It's another for outsiders, with no personal stake in the situation, to join in. We object (and rightly so) to rioters being brought in from outside to make the situation worse. How is it wrong for them to do that, but not wrong for the other side to do the same? Two wrongs don't make one right; goose, meet gander; etc.
Second, why have the rioters been permitted to create mayhem in Kenosha for three nights in a row? It's obvious the authorities have not sought to crack down on their illegal behavior. Why? The innocent residents of Kenosha are being thrown to the wolves in the name of political correctness and "community sensitivity". That's insane. If law and order is being so swiftly applied to Mr. Rittenhouse, why was (and is) it not being applied in equal measure, and just as rigorously, to the rioters? Equality before the law, much? I presume Mr. Rittenhouse's lawyer(s) will bring up that point when it comes to his trial. However, if the authorities are determined to appease the rioters and/or their communities, others are going to get short shrift. If you live in an area where that's a factor, take note, because it'll directly affect your ability to defend yourself, your loved ones and your property. You can't protect them if you're locked up, while the rioters you sought to keep away are still out on the streets and hungry for revenge against you and yours.
That brings up a point I've made many times before in these pages. Some areas, places and positions are simply not defensible. If you live in an area where there are few, if any, defenses against riots and unrest, and where the authorities can't be trusted to defend neighborhoods and residents, you're on a hiding to nothing if you try to do what they won't do. It'll be far better in the long run for you to take your family and get the hell out of the way of the problem. That's not cowardly, or "surrendering to the mob": it's realistic. Why get locked up for years, perhaps for the rest of your life, to defend what basically cannot be defended against such an onslaught? Choose wisely, and as far in advance of the need as you can. Property can be replaced. Lives can't. Your family can't.
Let's look at the charges brought against Mr. Rittenhouse. Prosecutors claim he fled from Wisconsin to Illinois to avoid prosecution, but that's a very flimsy allegation indeed, considering that he reported to police immediately after the shootings, and they allegedly told him to go home and await further contact.
Andrew Branca is a well-known defense attorney and author of "The Law of Self Defense" (which I highly recommend, BTW).
Mr. Branca had this to say about the prosecutor's allegations.
The phrase you’re looking for is “consciousness of guilt evidence,” but it’s inapplicable to this case. It’s intended to apply to persons who are attempting to avoid actual criminal liability by flight or tampering with evidence or lying to the police. Think “Bernie Goetz fleeing subway car after shooting the men who attacked him, and running to CT to hide” as a more classic example of consciousness of guilt flight. That’s not what happened here.
Here, Rittenhouse immediately turned himself over to police while still at the scene of the shooting, so he clearly wasn’t attempting to avoid responsibility or identification or avoid prosecution–he knew the authorities knew who he was and where they could find him.
More likely the Trayvon-Martin-aged Rittenhouse simply didn’t understand that he was prohibited from just going home, if going home meant leaving the state.
I know the complaint against him states that he was fleeing for purposes of avoiding prosecution, but that’s a presumption–note there’s no evidence cited in support of that claim. And if I had $1 for every profoundly defective and falsified criminal complaint I saw in an apparently clear-cut case of self-defense, I’d have more BMW motorcycles in my garage.
Rittenhouse is apparently, based on known evidence, no more guilty of murder in this event than Officer Chauvin is guilty of murdering George Floyd or Officer Rolfe is guilty of murdering Rayshaad Brooks or the McCloskeys are guilty of unlawful use of weapons when facing down a threatening mob outside their home.
There's more at the link. It's going to make one heck of a court case, that's for sure . . .
Note that at least some of those who were shot were chasing Mr. Rittenhouse, and were armed and/or engaged in assaulting him. Photographic evidence shows that he was kicked, and struck with a skateboard. Defending oneself against violent attack is not a crime. A third man who was shot was himself armed - photographs clearly show him holding a handgun - and was allegedly a convicted felon as well, which would make it illegal for him to possess a firearm. It's far from clear that Mr. Rittenhouse was doing anything other than defend himself against illegal attack. Whether or not he did anything to cause or precipitate those events is as yet unknown.
There's also photographic evidence that some of the rioters who pursued and/or attacked Mr. Rittenhouse were wearing badges identifying themselves as "medics" or "press". As one observer notes:
I have seen over and over these past three months Antifa complaining that the cops were “attacking” their medics which is a war crime and whatnot. I might be mistaken, but you cannot be a combatant and claim the alleged respect given to medics. There have been plenty of claims of people (undercover Antifa/BLM) prancing around, camera in hand with PRESS patches attached to their chest and backs, only to join the fracas when they think nobody is looking.
Those wearing such badges are now likely to be identified as rioters by that fact alone. Certainly, if I see such identifiers, I'll be more on my guard than ever, and prepared to act in my own defense against them if necessary.
Let's look for a moment at the rifle used by Mr. Rittenhouse. An enlarged detail from a photograph in a report by CBS Chicago shows us his weapon.
It looks like a stock-standard low-cost entry-level AR-15 carbine, the sort I recommended a few months ago in my articles on personal defense rifles. Its only add-on accessory appears to be a simple red dot sight; from the arrangement of the controls and battery housing, it resembles a Sightron unit or something similar. There's nothing exceptional about the weapon, but it did exactly what it was supposed to do when it was needed. The results of the shooting are testimony to its effectiveness.
Now let's look at the broader implications of this incident. I think it illustrates the reality that attitudes are hardening. More and more Americans are saying "Enough!" when confronted by Antifa and BLM rioters. They're no longer willing to cower in their homes and be intimidated. I can only approve of this in the strongest possible terms.
Herschel Smith points out:
It only escalates from here. The sides don’t sit back, ponder what’s happened, and then suddenly decide that this might have been a misadventure and badly conceived project. Anger builds. Memories are made. This all redounds to increasing levels of violence. Once this spigot has been opened, it’s extremely difficult to close it.
Mr. Smith has two other very informative articles on his blog, both of which I highly recommend:
- Michael Yon’s Observations On The Fighting In Kenosha, WI
- Candid Observations At Reddit Concerning Kenosha, WI Gun Battle
I draw to your attention two articles I published last month:
- Self-defense under a justice system that's no longer on your side
- No, I wasn't being alarmist - rather, I wasn't alarmist enough
Back already? Good. Let's continue.
If you choose to defend yourself, your loved ones, your home and your community against such violence, expect to be targeted during and after the fact by the rioters and their supporters. They'll try to film or photograph you, and use that to identify you, and then come after you, as they did in Hugo, MN last week. Therefore, make it as difficult as possible for them to do that.
- Over and above the precautions I mentioned in those two earlier articles, consider wearing simple, nondescript clothing that can easily blend in with your surroundings. Avoid identifying colors, patches, signs or slogans. If they're there, cover them with paint or permanent marker. If you look like everyone else, it's hard to pin you down.
- Note how Antifa and BLM rioters wear head coverings and other material that makes it hard to identify them. Follow their example. Medical face masks, such as those commonly used to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19, make facial recognition much more difficult. So do ski masks, pull-up devices such as neck gaiters, and similar clothing. Outdoor recreation hats and caps can help preserve your privacy, as can protective helmets (safety, motorcycle, etc.). Safety glasses, particularly those with clear lenses and a mirror finish (such as this pair, which I like because they're comfortable and don't fog up when worn with medical face masks), can be worn even at night, and protect your eyes and upper face from prying eyes. What's more, buying multiple sets can be very inexpensive, so you can equip your entire family or team. Finally, move discreetly, and use cover and concealment where it's available.
- Make sure that whatever clothing and equipment you choose to wear won't interfere with defending yourself, if necessary. Test them at the shooting range to check that for yourself - don't take anyone else's word for it. What's more, if you wear or use anything readily identifiable during a riot situation, discard it/them immediately afterwards. Crushing and/or shredding and/or burning comes to mind - don't just toss them in the trash. Also, make sure that any such clothing or equipment still in your possession looks different from what you've discarded. Remember, too, that if you buy them online, there's a paper and/or financial trail that may lead to you. Rather buy from stores and pay in cash, for greater privacy and security.
- Wear gloves, to protect your hands, and clothes and footwear that will allow rapid movement if necessary. Flip-flops or sliders are right out! Make sure any identifying features such as scars or tattoos are covered.
- Remember that you don't only have to worry about video recording by rioters and demonstrators. Public and private security cameras may record your movements and activities in many neighborhoods. Try to identify in advance areas covered by such devices, and either avoid them or make sure they can't identify you (or your vehicle) as you pass. They don't necessarily have to see your face to do so; techniques such as gait analysis can also pin you down. You should regard yourself as under surveillance at all times, and conduct yourself accordingly.
Does that sound over the top? Too much trouble? Take another look at the video and photographic coverage of Mr. Rittenhouse's encounter, and decide for yourself. He was very easily identifiable, wasn't he? Note, too, that many of the rioters who pursued him were not. They'd taken precautions against that.
I'll let Tom Luongo have the last word.
It would always come to this. At some point there would be a reckoning for BLM and Antifa.
The shootings in Kenosha, WI are a dividing line for America.
This is the moment where normal people finally said, “Enough. There will be consequences. “
This is a war between radicalized lunatics bathed in unquenchable envy and self-pity and those who refuse to act like victims.
But they are victims.
All of us are. On both sides of the divide.
We are victims of a vicious program to divide and conquer the U.S. through a culture war designed to dehumanize each other.
We fight among ourselves over scraps while the people who manipulated events to this point walk away laughing at the destruction.
They want the violence. They love it. They relish it. It brings them power and prestige.
To maintain their power, as the systems they’ve built fail, they have set us against each other: paid looters and rioters to become cannon fodder in their war against common decency, culture, communities and family.
All for control over the levers of political power.
. . .
We are up against people who brook no limit on their behavior. Everything is justified in the pursuit of their righteous cause. You can see in it all the video footage.
And they know it. They know that we’d rather not fight back. That, unfortunately, to people empowered by the mob and turned into bullies, is misinterpreted as weakness.
Having humanity is not weakness. It is strength.
And nothing bursts the bubble of false bravado on display by Anfita/BLM at this point than strength of character, which defines limits, creates boundaries and establishes consequences.
The sad truth is that this is only the beginning of what’s to come. The line is crossed and from town to town, that line will be more difficult to assess than ever before.
The myth of policing is failing. There aren’t enough cops to quell these riots. The State has been revealed as their enablers.
The law has been used against property owners told they shouldn’t defend themselves or their businesses.
They’ve been afraid of being the ones who cross the line while the looters overwhelm the streets. That impulse will continue to wither. This anarcho-tyranny will not stand for much longer.
That’s what we saw it on the streets of Kenosha.
We’ll see more of it, until a new form of order asserts itself.
That gets it said.