The Police and Racist Vigilantes

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2193 ... September 15, 2020

The Police and Racist Vigilantes

Sonali Kolhatkar

Police in America, whose mottos claim to "protect and serve" us, have been openly declaring allegiance with the forces of white supremacy. It is no coincidence that this has become a hallmark of Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump defended Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old white suspect in the shooting deaths of two activists in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the days following the police shooting of a Black man named Jacob Blake. Implying that the suspected shooter was acting in self-defense against Black Lives Matter protesters, Trump said, "He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like… He probably would have been killed." Later, in a Fox News interview, he defended police in a similar manner, saying they were "under siege" and using a golf analogy to explain why they routinely kill unarmed people: "just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot putt."

Across social media, those claiming to "Back the Blue," and that "Blue Lives Matter," have taken their cues from the president and... declared Rittenhouse a hero. The 17-year-old idolized police. And they clearly felt comforted by the presence of his armed group.

In a video capturing their close collaboration, Kenosha police officers were seen going out of their way to ensure that Rittenhouse and the vigilantes that had gathered in their city had plenty of water. At the same time, they were enforcing the city’s curfew against someone else, announcing aggressively over a bullhorn, "You are a civilian. This area is closed to all. You are trespassing. Leave. Leave now." Seconds later, the same officer is heard saying to Rittenhouse and his colleagues, "We appreciate you guys -- we really do." If ever there was doubt that police and armed white vigilantes see themselves as part of the same club, this interaction dispelled it.

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