On Thursday, January 30th, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa, President Donald Trump held one of his patented rage rallies for his adoring fans. Speaking for ninety minutes, Trump berated the usual enemies: Hillary, liberals, immigrants, reporters, etc. Seated to the President’s right in the front row, soaking up all the hostility, was Kyle Rittenhouse, a high school dropout from Antioch, Illinois.
This screen capture below from a C-Span video shows Kyle dutifully listening to Trump’s speech. Rittenhouse himself posted a live TikTok video from his seat, verifying that he was indeed there.
Wendy Rittenhouse, Kyle’s mother, is 45-years-old, divorced, and works as a Nurse’s Assistant. Struggling to get by on her income and $85 monthly child support from her ex-husband, Michael, Wendy has filed for bankruptcy and sought a restraining order against a neighbor whose teenage son bullied her son Kyle.
Reporters have started to piece together Kyle’s story. With only two years of High School, he had worked as a lifeguard until idled by the Covid-19 lockdown. Kyle applied for entry into the US Marines, but recruiters rejected him right on the spot. His social media presence indicates a fascination with police work, joining some police youth programs that included ride-along and other activities. His Facebook and TikTok entries show photographs in police garb and military apparel. The most problematic feature of all of these online images was the ever-present AR-15 rifle.
The question is: who bought him that AR-15 rifle? At age 17, it is illegal in Illinois to own such a weapon or carry it around. Did his mother buy it for him? His father?
It’s a toxic brew. The middle child of a dysfunctional family, with no one to teach the obvious lessons of life: honesty, the importance of education, work ethic, respect for others, Kyle was a walking fertilizer bomb, waiting for someone to light the fuze. That person was none other than Donald J. Trump, President of the United States.
Kenosha, Wisconsin, erupted into street demonstrations after an August 23rd cell phone video hit the news showing the Kenosha Police shooting an unarmed black citizen, Jacob Blake, in the back seven times as he tried to get into his car. These street demonstrations started peacefully, but decades of experience show that these situations are a magnet for ne’er-do-wells, looters, and anarchists who jump at the chance to do some mayhem.
While Kenosha, Wisconsin, struggled with dealing with the demonstrations, looting, and destruction of public and private property, President Trump fanned the flames with his Twitter platform. Here’s an example:
After these Trump tweets, Kenosha experienced a new phenomenon, the arrival of armed right-wing militia groups. More disturbing is the apparent acceptance of these vigilantes by the local police. There is video evidence of Kenosha police encouraging these lawless groups, giving them water bottles, saying: “We appreciate you guys, we really do.” The protesters found themselves on the street with the police on one end and a band of right-wing militia vigilantes at the other end. Trump had lit the fuze.
That Tuesday night, August 25th, it all went wrong. Kyle Rittenhouse showed up with his Smith & Wesson AR-15 rifle and a first aid kit. He took up residence at a business that had been burned out, ostensibly to protect it. Reporters approached him and made this report.
On Tuesday night, Rittenhouse was with fellow armed men self-appointed to protect the streets of a city aflame, insisting he was there to render first aid and protect a business. But asked by a reporter to clarify whether his role was “nonlethal,” he cradled his weapon and pointedly disagreed. “We don’t have nonlethal,” Rittenhouse said.
Kyle became lethal minutes later. The first to fall was Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha. Rosenbaum, unarmed, chased Kyle into a parking lot. Kyle opened fire with multiple rounds, killing Rosenbaum. He left behind a fiance and a young daughter.
The crowd attempted to catch the shooter and get his gun, precisely what a good citizen should do in an active shooter situation. The next one to be killed was Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake. He had a skateboard as his only weapon, and a shot to his chest extinguished his life. Remember, these AR-15 weapons explode internal organs, according to ER doctors. Huber left a daughter and a longtime girlfriend.
One other victim, college student Gaige Grosskreutz, was shot in the arm and is expected to survive. Video shows that Grosskreutz was carrying a handgun, but did not fire it. This clip from a cell phone video shows Anthony Huber (skateboard) and another man attempting to get the rifle from Kyle.
Several bystanders documented Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting rampage. NBC News collected most of these videos and published this chilling report.
Study this photograph. A seventeen-year-old high school dropout, rejected by the US Marines, looking for a fight. How many of him are out there, waiting to act out their militia fantasies. All they need is an autocratic leader to give them the green light.
I’ve written several blog postings about these AR-15 assault rifles and how their wide availability has weaponized the crazies among us. However, this time, there is a political aspect to events in Kenosha, Portland, Louisville, and several other cities. Trump is deliberately inciting this violence to steer attention away from his abject failure dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Don’t be fooled. Trump can’t be the “law and order” candidate when the civil unrest is on his watch. These are the Trump riots of 2020. It’s going to get worse.