Jim Crow has come to Wisconsin: The Kenosha Lynchings Trial farce and the need for Federal Civil Rights charges against Kyle Rittenhouse and others

Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney and Michael Schwerner were three Civil Rights activists murdered in Mississippi in 1964

There is a tendency in American society to ignore the ugliest parts of our history, and to imagine that the legacy of racism and Jim Crow is long behind us. It is not. Kyle Rittenhouse went to BLM protests in Kenosha Wisconsin because he saw himself as an agent of white supremacy.

He saw BLM protests as an insult to his notions of white supremacy, and he was apparently supported in that belief by his mother, who drove him to the site of the protest, knowing that he would be circulating in public with an illegal firearm.

Rittenhouse’s trial apparently suffered from a police department that was either comically inept, or willfully negligent in providing support to the District Attorney’s office, and the judge in the case refused to permit adequate cross-examination of Rittenhouse to determine his true motives.    

Kyle Rittenhouse murdered 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, of Kenosha, and 26-year-old Anthony Huber, of Silver Lake, Wisconsin because they were white liberals out in public showing their support for equal treatment of African-Americans before the law, and white supremacists hate white liberals who support equal rights for African-Americans just as much as they hate people of color. The Rittenhouse case is substantially similar to the murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner in 1964.

In that case, which later became the basis of the film Mississippi burning, three Civil Rights workers had gone to Mississippi to investigate the burning of the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Longdale Mississippi. The murders of the three Civil Rights Activists were committed by members of the Lauderdale Ku Klux Klan.

“In addition to the Klan’s resistance, the state of Mississippi itself was continuing to monitor activists through the Sovereignty Commission, which worked in conjunction with the White Citizens Council, to use economic intimidation and threats to attempt to keep blacks in subservient positions.” 

In Kenosha Wisconsin in the summer of 2020, that same role was performed by the Department of Homeland Security under the direction of Trump appointees Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, who both conspired to amplify rhetoric about BLM and “Antifa” while downplaying infiltration of protests by right-wing groups such as the Proud Boys.

Local officials in Wisconsin willfully ignored online threats from right-wing extremists, and when those extremists showed up at the sight of the protest, they were welcomed by police officers with words of thanks and gifts of bottled water.    

Rittenhouse escalated the situation unnecessarily by displaying a rifle. Kenosha police were willfully negligent by allowing persons who they knew were likely to be right-wing extremists to circulate throughout the protest area while carrying firearms.

De-escalation training for police officers normally instructs officers not to put their hand on their weapon unless they absolutely have to, as once a person lays their hand on the grip of a firearm, it automatically raises the stress level of the situation, and increases the likelihood of a violent outcome. Video of the incident shows police fraternizing with armed counter-protesters, Rittenhouse included, in a jovial manner and allowing them to pass freely into the protest area.

A responsible police force would have detained armed individuals, and kept them away from other protesters so as to avoid violence. Failure of Kenosha police officers to exercise such a basic element of police procedure should be regarded as at least gross negligence, if not an active conspiracy against the rights of protesters.

Families of the victims should consider Civil Action not just against Rittenhouse himself, but also against the Kenosha Police department.     

Action against officers involved from the US Justice Department would take the form of charges of violating 18 USC §§ 241 and 242, those sections are Conspiracy against rights and Deprivation of rights under color of law. Gaige Grosskreutz, the person who survived being shot by Rittenhouse but lost around 90 percent of his bicep as a result, has already filed a civil complaint against the city of Kenosha, and the arguments presented by his lawyers should be mirrored by Federal Prosectors to support the §§ 241 and 242 arguments. 

The decision to completely ignore the need for de-escalation during a racial justice protest, and to allow armed counter-protesters to circulate throughout the protest area represents an obvious intent to threaten and intimidate Civil Rights activists.

In the Supreme Court case United States v. Price, the court held that: “To act under color’ of law does not require that the accused be an officer of the State. It is enough that he is a willful participant in joint activity with the State or its agents.” Pp. 383 U. S. 794-795.

The Grosskreutz civil complaint outlines numerous instances suggesting that officials within the Kenosha local government and police department were aware of the potential threat posed by armed, right-wing militants, yet chose to ignore that threat, and to enlist the aide of armed vigilantes to harass and intimidate protesters in violation of their 1st and 14th Amendment Rights.    

One of the goals of those far right conservatives who want to destroy American Democracy is to frame every story in the form of a simple binary narrative. Russian bot-nets try to promote that over-simplified narratives by ignoring the need for police reform, and pushing overly loose bail reform measures, calls to “end qualified immunity”, and to “defund the police”. In order to provide safety for the American public, a more nuanced approach is required.

While it is absolutely essential for the American people to support police officers who help to keep their communities safe, it is still necessary to recognize an authoritarian right-wing element in America’s police departments, and to mount aggressive prosecutions when officers act in appropriately by allying themselves with right-wing extremist groups.

Failure to bring charges against the officers who allied themselves with right-wing extremist groups in Kenosha is not just a failure to enforce the law, it is a tactic endorsement of right-wing extremism, and an act of omission that threatens the Constitutional rights of all Americans. 

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Lauren Boebert is the One with Terrorist Ties, not Ilhan Omar

By JUAN COLE

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) was caught on camera boasting of taunting Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) that she is a terrorist.

The taunt was ironic given that Hunter Walker at Rolling Stone reported that Boebert was one of a handful of representatives on the Hill who repeatedly met with conspirators planning the January 6, 2021, Capitol Insurrection in which angry armed mobs invaded the halls of Congress chanting “hang Mike Pence” and seeking to harm legislators.

Walker said of his two two top sources within the insurrectionists, “Rolling Stone has separately obtained documentary evidence that both sources were in contact with [Arizona Rep. Paul] Gosar and Boebert on Jan. 6.”

On Jan. 6! That is, while the insurrection was taking place!

That is, Boebert is the one with terrorist ties.

Rep. Omar is a refugee from the violence of warlords and terrorists in Somalia who came to the U.S. as a girl and rose to become a congresswoman because of her devotion to her new country and the trust she gained among her constituents that she would carefully steward their interests. Hers is a quintessential American story. Seven of the thirty-nine signers of the U.S. Constitution were foreign-born, one in the West Indies. For Rep. Omar to be tagged unjustly with the very violence that drove her from her homeland as a child must be deeply upsetting.

Boebert, addressing a small group of constituents in a living room, told a story (which Rep. Omar contests) that she was getting into an elevator in the Capitol when a policeman came running toward her with alarm on his face. Puzzled, she looked around and saw that Rep. Omar was in it with her. She alleged that she reassured the policeman that Omar did not have a backpack and so it was probably safe. She said that she then used the phrase “jihad squad.”

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Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff

Two sources are communicating with House investigators and detailed a stunning series of allegations to Rolling Stone, including a promise of a “blanket pardon” from the Oval Office

By HUNTER WALKER 

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As the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack heats up, some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Two of these people have spoken to Rolling Stone extensively in recent weeks and detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent. 

Rolling Stone separately confirmed a third person involved in the main Jan. 6 rally in D.C. has communicated with the committee. This is the first report that the committee is hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses. While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence. 

The two sources, both of whom have been granted anonymity due to the ongoing investigation, describe participating in “dozens” of planning briefings ahead of that day when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol as his election loss to President Joe Biden was being certified. 

“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” the organizer says. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”

For the sake of clarity, we will refer to one of the sources as a rally organizer and the other as a planner. Rolling Stone has confirmed that both sources were involved in organizing the main event aimed at objecting to the electoral certification, which took place at the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6. Trump spoke at that rally and encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. Some members of the audience at the Ellipse began walking the mile and a half to the Capitol as Trump gave his speech. The barricades were stormed minutes before the former president concluded his remarks.

These two sources also helped plan a series of demonstrations that took place in multiple states around the country in the weeks between the election and the storming of the Capitol. According to these sources, multiple people associated with the March for Trump and Stop the Steal events that took place during this period communicated with members of Congress throughout this process. 

Along with Greene, the conspiratorial pro-Trump Republican from Georgia who took office earlier this year, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

“We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” says the organizer.  

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Right-Wing Vigilante Found Not Guilty of Murdering Two Anti-Racist Protestors

The most closely-watched murder trial in recent memory exemplifies the standard of cops and racists having a right to kill in the US

By Monica Cruz

Kyle Rittenhouse before shooting three men, killing two, in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25, 2021. Photo: Twitter @StandForBetter

After four days of deliberations, a jury acquitted 18-year old Kyle Rittenhouse on all charges related to his killing of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25, 2020.  That night, thousands had hit the streets to protest the August 23rd police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed after being shot in the back seven times by Kenosha city police officers. Rittenhouse traveled from his home state of Illinois to join a right-wing militia at the protest.

Rittenhouse was charged with five felonies including first degree intentional homicide. He argued that he acted in self-defense when he fired his semi-automatic rifle, killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and injuring Gaige Grusskreutz.

The court proceedings were riddled with unusual moves on the part of Judge Bruce Schroeder, who had Rittenhouse draw the names of jurors to be designated as alternates in a game show-style raffle tumbler. Schroeder granted the defense’s request to ban the use of the word “victims” in reference to the three men Rittenhouse shot, while allowing the defense to call them “looters,” “rioters,” and “arsonists.”

The judge made his bias in favor of the defense clear, validating it’s claims that the prosecution “distorted” video of the shootings by using a zoomed in version of the high quality video and screaming at the lead prosecutor for it. He called for a 10 minute break so Rittenhouse could “collect himself” after he broke down during his testimony.

Verdict speaks to state-backed right-wing violence 

Armed right-wingers showed up at dozens of protests during the anti-racist uprising in the US in 2020, claiming to be there to defend property.  These fascistic groups have been emboldened by Trump and his pro-police rhetoric as the nation faced a reckoning with its systemic racism. Right-wing militias have a long history in the US, often galvanized by people’s movements against racism and for workers rights.

Speaking at a press conference following the verdict announcement, Jacob Blake’s uncle exclaimed, “Racism runs from the courtroom to the police station to the mayor’s office. They all have blood on their hands.”

All-in all, the Rittenhouse verdict sets a dangerous precedent on how right-wing vigilantism is handled in the United States. It signals to the right-wing that shooting and killing anti-racist protesters is a crime that can go unpunished. Regardless of the specific arguments and intricacies of the case itself, the verdict exemplifies why the 2020 anti-racist uprising was set off in the first place and why mass resurgance of this movement is inevitable.

In a statement, the Party for Socialism and Liberation wrote, “The verdict is an infuriating reminder of the fundamentally white supremacist nature of the capitalist legal system in the United States … But the movement against racism will not be terrorized into passivity. In Kenosha and throughout the country, protesters are now hitting the streets to show that they will not be silenced by this grave affront to justice.”

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The ‘Great Resignation’ is a Trend That Began Before the Pandemic – and Bosses Need to Get Used to It

By Ian O. Williamson

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Finding good employees has always been a challenge – but these days it’s harder than ever. And it is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

The so-called quit rate – the share of workers who voluntarily leave their jobs – hit a new record of 3% in September 2021, according to the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The rate was highest in the leisure and hospitality sector, where 6.4% of workers quit their jobs in September. In all, 20.2 million workers left their employers from May through September.

Companies are feeling the effects. In August 2021, a survey found that 73% of 380 employers in North America were having difficulty attracting employees – three times the share that said so the previous year. And 70% expect this difficulty to persist into 2022.

Observers have blamed a wide variety of factors for all the turnover, from fear of contracting COVID-19 by mixing with co-workers on the job to paltry wages and benefits being offered.

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COP26 Conference: Capitalists Don’t Cop to Climate Corruption

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Over the 12 days of the climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, fossil fuel companies extracted a billion barrels of oil from the ground. As diplomats tap-danced around the climate crisis, capitalists guaranteed that even more Earth-warming carbon would clog the atmosphere. Beneath their fake show of unity and pathetically inadequate (and unenforceable) pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the bosses did what bosses do.  The COP26 conference was driven by the capitalist law of maximum profit and by the inter-imperialist rivalry heading toward global war. The only thing that unites the world’s ruling classes is their need to build racism, sexism, nationalism, and fascism to prepare for that war. Only communist revolution, led by Progressive Labor Party (PLP), can save a habitable planet by putting science and workers’ needs first.

Climate change and racist inequality

Though all workers are hurt by climate change, poor Black, Latin and Asian working-class areas suffer the most. An unprecedented drought in Madagascar has left more than one million people at risk of famine (U.N.,10/21). Rising sea levels in the Indian Ocean could erase the Maldive Islands within three generations (express.co.uk, 11/15/17). In the state of Bahia in northeastern Brazil, dried-out rivers are wiping out crops, drinking water, and farmers’ jobs (Yale Environment 360, 11/10). In September, Hurricane Ida swept through New York City and killed 11 workers trapped in illegal basement apartments in working-class  Asian neighborhoods—victims of both climate change and their landlords’ greed.  And let’s not forget Hurricane Katrina, which in 2005 killed nearly 2,000 workers in New Orleans, 52 percent of them Black.

By far the worst is yet to come. By 2050, more than a billion workers could become climate refugees (theguardian.com, 9/9/20).

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How Do We Avoid the Politics of Despair?

Democrats have struggled to deliver on their progressive promises—even ones that are wildly popular—but voters don’t have to wait for the upcoming midterm elections to push them to follow through.

BY MARC STEINER

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Even with majorities in both the House and Senate, conservative Democrats fought and removed parts of the Build Back Better plan that were wildly popular with voters—voters who elected Democrats expecting them to deliver things like paid leave, universal pre-K, and expanded Medicare coverage. As those voters continue to face real struggles, what options do they have when their representatives won’t even defend their agenda against members of their own party? 

On this episode of The Marc Steiner Show, longtime labor organizer Bill Fletcher Jr. and Jacobin staff writer Luke Savage discuss how voters need to organize and counterattack with litigation, ballot initiatives, and mass action to confront voter suppression and gerrymandering, and pressure Democrats into action—and not just wait until midterm elections “for the meteor to hit.”

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Rittenhouse Acquittal Hands Racist Vigilantes a License to Kill

Party for Socialism and Liberation

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The Party for Socialism and Liberation joins with millions of people across the country in expressing our complete outrage at the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse on all charges. Once again, the U.S. court system has functioned to protect a racist murderer, who went out into the streets of Kenosha on August 25, 2020 to wage war on people protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. The verdict is an infuriating reminder of the fundamentally white supremacist nature of the capitalist legal system in the United States. 

The acquittal of Rittenhouse has tremendously dangerous ramifications. It effectively hands a license to kill to right wing vigilantes, who will now feel even more empowered to terrorize people in the name of “law and order”. There is a long and deadly tradition of far right militia-type violence in the United States, and this threat has now been given a huge boost by the state. 

The kangaroo court presided over by Judge Bruce Schroeder was a disgrace, and greatly enhanced Rittenhouse’s chances of acquittal by the nearly all-white jury. The process was rigged from the start, and grew more and more absurd with each passing day. 

No doubt Rittenhouse was the aggressor

The case presented by Rittenhouse’s lawyers revolved around the claim of self-defense. This narrative was picked up by corporate media outlets in an attempt to prepare public opinion to accept an acquittal, and ridiculously has even bled into some alternative media circles. But an examination of the facts makes it clear that Rittenhouse was the aggressor. 

A cell phone video featuring audio of Rittenhouse from two weeks prior to the events of August 25 gives a window into his state of mind at the time. The video zooms in on people leaving a CVS with objects in their hands, presumably participating in the looting of the store. A speaker, who sounds exactly like Rittenhouse, can be heard saying, “Bro, I wish I had my f—— AR right now. I’d be shooting rounds at them.” Despite the prosecution’s attempt to get the video admitted as evidence, the biased judge Schroeder rejected that motion. 

Protests against the racist police shooting of Jacob Blake continued on August 25 and were marked by a notable increase in vigilante presence. Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois that day and later at night he went to his friend’s stepfather’s home to retrieve his weapon. He then joined a right wing militia gathered at a car dealership called Car Source. The owner of the dealership did not ask them to “protect” the location. Rittenhouse had absolutely no reason to be there — he along with his fellow fascist vigilantes went out heavily armed with the intention to terrorize or even kill their political opponents who were rising up against racism. It is ludicrous for a person in that situation to claim “self-defense”. 

Later in the night Rittenhouse got separated from the militia he had been embedded with. Approaching the parking lot of a Car Source dealership at 11:48 p.m., Rittenhouse ran past Joseph Rosenbaum and dropped a fire extinguisher that he was carrying. Rittenhouse raised his rifle to point at Joshua Ziminski, who was vandalizing cars in the parking lot but posed no threat to Rittenhouse. Someone in the crowd yelled, “gun, gun, gun!” Rosenbaum, who was unarmed, ran towards Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse ran several steps from Rosenbaum, turned, and shot Rosenbaum in the hip. Rosenbaum fell to the ground incapacitated. Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum three more times as he lay on the ground. A shot to the back kills him.  

A group of people followed Rittenhouse, believing that he could kill again. At 11:49 p.m., Rittenhouse trips and falls in the street. An unknown individual attempts to kick Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse fires at this individual and misses. Anthony Huber bravely jumps into the fray to attempt to wrest the rifle away from Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse fires at point blank range and shoots Huber in the heart, killing him. Gaige Grosskreutz approached Rittenhouse with a handgun drawn for self defense — a perfectly reasonable action considering that Rittenhouse had just murdered someone literally one minute prior. The handgun is pointed away from Rittenhouse and it is only after Rittenhouse shoots Grosskreutz in the bicep that Grosskreutz’s arm droops and points at Rittenhouse. Grosskreutz flees to seek medical attention. 

Rittenhouse picks himself up and runs towards a police line with his hands raised. Bystanders yell, “That’s the shooter! This dude shot someone!” as Rittenhouse walks towards the armored police cars. The police allow the armed teenager to pass through their lines without arresting or even questioning him. 

This was emblematic of the police’s friendly attitude towards the far right paramilitaries that had mobilized that night. The Kenosha Police Department conspired with the vigilantes to suppress and intimidate anti-racist protestors. At 9:57 p.m. Kenosha Police Sergeant Adam Jurgens sent a message over the police’s internal message system saying, “If problems arise and those [militia] groups enter into the mix please provide them verbal orders to stand down if we have the resources to handle the calls for service. Very friendly but we need to handle our business in-house as much as possible.” 

The concluding phrase “as much as possible” and the qualifier “if we have the resources to handle the calls for service” indicate that the police were considering relying on the militias as an option for “handling” protestors if the situation got out of their control. This perfectly encapsulates the historical role played by white supremacist paramilitaries as an auxiliary to the white supremacist official police forces. 

The warm relationship between the police and the vigilantes can be seen in a video where the police offer a group of vigilantes water. At approximately 11:30 p.m., a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle announces itself to the militia, asking if they want water. Rittenhouse, in a distinctive green shirt, white hat, and orange med kit, asks the police officers for water. As the officers demand anti-racist protestors leave for violating the curfew, they thank the militia. “We appreciate you guys. We really do,” says the police officer operating the MRAP. The police did not arrest militia members for slashing tires in the area or provocatively pointing weapons at protestors.

One member of the right wing militia told the New York Times (and protesters on the night of August 25) that the police had actually told the vigilantes that they were going to push the anti-racist protesters down the street in their direction. The police deny this, but it is certainly part of the cops’ standard toolkit of repression to engineer provocations of this nature. 

Judge rigs the trial in favor of the killer

Even before the trial began it was clear that Judge Schroeder was biased in favor of Rittenhouse. He decided to grant the defense’s request to ban the use of the term “victims” to describe the people who Rittenhouse shot. At the same time, Schroeder denied the prosecution’s request to similarly ban the use of words like “looters,” “rioters” and “arsonists” to describe the same people.

One of the most dramatic (and disgusting) moments of the trial came when Rittenhouse himself took the stand. Widely mocked as being an obviously staged performance, Rittenhouse broke down in “tears” as he recounted and defended his murderous actions that night. The judge lent credibility to this ridiculous spectacle by calling a recess to allow Rittenhouse to compose himself. 

The judge permitted highly unusual practices in the courtroom to send a subtle psychological message to the jurors that Rittenhouse did not pose a threat to anyone, feeding into the defense’s racist narrative of a “good kid” caught in a bad situation. One infamous photo shows Rittenhouse peering over just behind the judge’s shoulder as they watch video evidence together — a person on trial for two murders and attempting a third is allowed to hover un-handcuffed a few feet behind the presiding judge! At the conclusion of the trial, slips of paper were drawn out of a raffle drum to determine who the final jurors to deliberate a verdict will be. This task is generally done by a court clerk, but in this case the judge allowed Rittenhouse himself to draw the slips. 

On Nov. 11, Judge Schroeder went so far as to order the entire courtroom to applaud for a witness for the defense. When John Black, an Army veteran and “use of force expert” brought into court by Rittenhouse’s lawyers, was testifying, Schroeder asked the courtroom if anyone had served in the armed forces since it was Veterans Day. Only Black identified himself — after being prompted to do so by Schroeder! — and the courtroom was then told to clap for the man brought by the defense to argue that Rittenhouse was innocent. 

Even if a murder conviction was in doubt because of the biased nature of the trial, it seemed completely obvious that Rittenhouse would at the very least be found guilty of illegally possessing a firearm, since he was 17 at the time of the killings and as a minor was not allowed to own or carry his gun. But Schroeder threw out this charge before the jury could even consider it. In an extraordinary move, Schroeder essentially overruled the Wisconsin state legislature and invalidated the entire law in question because of a technicality related to how the language in the statute was written. 

No one can honestly say that a Black teenager on trial for multiple murders would have been given the same kind of treatment in any courtroom in America. The strenuous efforts to show Rittenhouse is presumed innocent, the built-in advantages for his lawyers, and favorable media coverage could not be more different from the racist judicial railroading that working class Black youth and others from oppressed communities are routinely the victim of. But Rittenhouse is a white racist vigilante, and therefore entitled to ample protections in the U.S. “justice” system. 

Vigilante violence a tool of the ruling class

The U.S. capitalist ruling class has long relied on fascist, white supremacist paramilitary violence at crucial moments to stabilize their system. This goes as far back as the end of the Civil War, when the Ku Klux Klan and similar organizations were used to roll back the radical project of Reconstruction by employing brutal terrorism. In the early 1900s, the Klan was revived to repress growing labor militancy and the struggle for Black freedom. Similar fascist, vigilante violence was allowed, encouraged and organized by the state against the people’s movements of the 1960s and 70s. 

More recently, there was a surge in the “militia movement” in the 1990s that culminated with the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, where an explosive planted by white supremacist paramilitary members killed at least 168 people. Fascist groups received a surge of energy with the election of Donald Trump and later the emergence of far-right anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. 

Rittenhouse’s acquittal is a clear signal from the government that vigilantes who kill anti-racist protesters — or any kind of progressive demonstrator — will enjoy impunity. All they have to do is say they feared for their lives and claim self-defense.

But the movement against racism will not be terrorized into passivity. In Kenosha and throughout the country, protesters are now hitting the streets to show that they will not be silenced by this grave affront to justice.

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The Rittenhouse Effect: Republicans Want a Stasi of Their Own

The government can’t suppress free speech — so ordinary conservatives are now using violence to do it

By AMANDA MARCOTTE

Pro-life demonstrators protest outside of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on November 1, 2021. | Kyle Rittenhouse enters the courtroom after a break at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 11, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. | People display signs during the Kentucky Freedom Rally at the capitol building on August 28, 2021 in Frankfort, Kentucky. Demonstrators gathered on the grounds of the capitol to speak out against a litany of issues, including Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear's management of the coronavirus pandemic, abortion laws, and the teaching of critical race theory.  (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)Pro-life demonstrators protest outside of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on November 1, 2021. | Kyle Rittenhouse enters the courtroom after a break at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 11, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. | People display signs during the Kentucky Freedom Rally at the capitol building on August 28, 2021 in Frankfort, Kentucky.  (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Despite the high-minded rhetoric from Republicans about the supposedly noble intentions behind bans on what they call “critical race theory,” progressives have suspected from the get-go that the whole thing is actually an exercise in censorship. This suspicion has been validated by the fact that the book targeted by Republican Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign in Virginia was the Pulitzer-winning classic “Beloved” by Toni Morrison. Or the fact that North Dakota’s law bans any materials suggesting “racism is not merely the product of learned individual bias or prejudice, but that racism is systemically embedded,” language that objectively bans teaching the history of slavery or Jim Crow. Or the fact that teachers in Texas took their own “critical race theory” law to mean that they had to teach “both sides” of the Holocaust. 

One of the most prominent groups advocating for this heavy-handed censorship is the misleadingly named “Moms for Liberty,” which presents as a “parents rights” group, but is in fact a racist organization dedicated to banning books about Martin Luther King Jr. and replacing them with books that insist there was no racial component to American slavery. Now the New Hampshire branch of Moms for Liberty is taking it to the next level. As Insider reports, the group is offering a $500 bounty to any person who reports a teacher supposedly breaking the law banning “critical race theory.” 

This bounty isn’t just about the letter of the law, which is already confusing and contradictory. Consider that Moms for Liberty’s list of books they want to be censored include those that teach that events like the March on Washington or Brown v. Board of Education. By offering this bounty, they send a strong signal to teachers of New Hampshire that, if they want to keep their jobs or at least not be harassed by right-wing activists, it would be wiser to simply avoid teaching any American history that touches on race or racism. So kids will get MLK Day off from school, but teachers will be afraid to tell them why

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A Growing Threat is Emerging from the Theocratic Wing of the GOP — but Many Liberals are Missing It

A growing threat is emerging from the theocratic wing of the GOP — but many liberals are missing it

Michael Flynn U.S. Air Force, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 

John Stoehr

Mike Flynn and Josh Mandel do not stand at the center of the Republican Party. They do not stand at its margins either. Flynn is the former’s president’s former advisor. (He’s a pardoned criminal, too.) Mandel is Ohio’s leading Senate candidate. Both men have said in recent days they don’t believe in the separation of church and state.

I’m paraphrasing. See for yourself what they said. However, their remarks should be familiar. They reflect the GOP’s theocratic wing. For decades, it has opposed the incorporated interpretation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause. They used to be way, way out there. But, even if I’m missing something, Flynn’s and Mandel’s remarks suggest the GOP’s theocratic wing isn’t as marginal as it once was.

Liberals have always been alarmed by the theocrats. Liberals know that when they talk about so-called “Judeo-Christian” values, they don’t mean Jews of any stripe. They don’t mean the full spectrum of Christianity. Mormons are not included. Neither are Episcopalians, Methodists or Presbyterians. Unitarians, like me, are cultists. Jehovah’s Witnesses are heretics. Only “real Christians” need apply, meaning twice-born believers in Christ saving them from eternal damnation.

Liberals should be more alarmed, especially religious liberals, but they may not know they should be. After all, the theocrats keep telling us, and the Washington press corps keeps telling us, that they are merely fighting for their Constitutional right to worship as they please, however they please. Religious liberals, therefore, might be thinking their religious freedoms will be secure, no matter what happens.

[Read On]

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