The police's treatment of the 17-year-old suspect charged with killing two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday night is being met with outrage after the local police chief blamed the homicides on demonstrators who were violating curfew, and video circulated of officers seemingly responding to the overnight reports of gunfire but showing no interest in the apparent shooter even as he walked toward them with his rifle visible.
In a Wednesday press conference, Kenosha Police Department Chief of Police Daniel Miskinis observed that "everyone involved" in the shooting was "out after the curfew." Miskinis additionally confirmed that "last night, a 17-year-old individual from Antioch, Illinois, was involved in the use of firearms to resolve whatever conflict was in place."
His comments faced immediate backlash: "'Involved in firearms' means a white militant killed two protesters. Penalty for curfew not death," tweeted @ShadowingTrump. "This stilted language is usually reserved for police officers, now extended to a white teen charged with first degree murder," added @nycsouthpaw. Another user simply dubbed the police chief's comments the "passive voice of the century."
Miskinis' remarks additionally drew attention to how local police responded to the "self-declared militia" that had arrived in Kenosha to counter-protest the demonstrations over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, and to the teenage shooting suspect, identified as Kyle Rittenhouse. "The apparent shooter ... was seen on video walking away from the scene — his AR-style rifle clearly visible, his hands above his head. But Kenosha police who were responding to the reports of gunfire showed no interest in arresting or even questioning the man," Vice reports. "Instead, they asked him for directions." Vice also notes that in another video, "Rittenhouse is seen chatting with police who gave him a bottle of water and thanked him for being there."
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back eight times on Sunday night in front of his children, sparking the renewed nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.