Four people are dead in connection with the protests in Kenosha and Portland.
During protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Aug. 25, Kyle Rittenhouse killed two people and injured a third. In Portland, a member of a pro-Trump rally was shot and killed Aug. 29, then the suspect of that shooting, Michael Reinoehl, was later killed by federal agents.
In these two cases there are similarities. Both came armed to protest. Both responded to seemingly non-lethal attacks against them with lethal force. The difference seems a relation to law enforcement. All sides should face condemnation in these situations.
There ought to be lessons learned from these tragedies. Protests are moments where passions will run hot. Tempers flare to fistfights, use of mace and other types of violent actions. Stoking that flame, trying to intimidate or threaten people on the other side is not conducive to getting any meaningful message across.
If there were mass shootings at protests, ones where the police showed incompetency in protecting the right to protest freely, it would be fine to arm oneself in these instances. Bringing guns for show or security will only invite disaster and possible retaliation from extremists on the other side or law enforcement.
Guns are always a lethal means to an end, even in self-defense. Once fired, the bullet can never be taken back.
Police and other law enforcement cannot rely on one side of a political spectrum to act as vigilante muscle against protesters.
The amount of some American’s distrust against law enforcement is high right now. Allowing even less trained, armed goons to protect communities will lead to people being assaulted or killed by those forces. We’ve seen it happen before, and it could happen again.
Most Americans hope that police, protesters and counter-protesters can settle differences without more needless tragedy in the coming months.
If there is any hope for a peaceful solution to the calls for police accountability, reform and possible abolition, then protesters must leave their guns at home and only meet with appropriate self-defense.
The police must be neutral paragons of these protests if they even want to be seen as different from a 17-year-old vigilante with a badge.