For any other president in history, condemning vigilante violence resulting in two dead would have been a no-brainer. But President Trump went on record yesterday defending Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who repeatedly shot at protestors in Kenosha, Washington, injuring one man and killing two others.

Featured Video Hide

After Trump slammed Joe Biden for not mentioning “left-wing political violence,” a reporter at his press briefing asked the president why he has failed to mention the violence his own supporters have been inciting.

“Do you also want to take this chance to condemn what your supporters did in Portland?” she asked.

Advertisement Hide

The president inaccurately claimed his supporters were peaceful at the Portland protest, when in reality they were caught on video spraying mace and firing paint and pellet guns into crowds of Black Lives Matter protestors.

This alteration of the truth is not surprising, considering the president had already praised this violent caravan of his supporters on Twitter as “great patriots” for purposely traveling to the Portland protests to stir up trouble. But of course, he doubled down yesterday.

“Paint is a defensive mechanism. Paint is not bullets,” he said. “Your supporters — and they are your supporters indeed — shot a young gentleman, and killed him, not with paint, but with a bullet, and I think it’s disgraceful.”

It was at that point, though Trump attempted to move on, that multiple reporters put him back on course with a reminder that it was, in fact, a supporter of his who killed two people with bullets in Kenosha prior to the incident in Portland.

“Are you going to condemn the actions of vigilantes like Kyle Rittenhouse?” one asked.

“We’re looking at all of it. That was an interesting situation,” he replied. “You saw the same tape as I saw, and he was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like. And he fell, and then they violently attacked him. And it was something that we’re looking at right now and it’s under investigation. But I guess he was in very big trouble. He would have been— he probably would have been killed. But it’s under investigation.”

Advertisement Hide

The video Trump is referring to is the one that was taken after Rittenhouse had already shot one protestor in the head, and was running away from the scene of the crime. Protestors appeared to be corralling him in the direction of the police, and tackled him to the ground to detain him while yelling at nearby cops that he shot someone. Rittenhouse continued shooting, ultimately killing a second person and injuring a third, and was not apprehended by police in the vicinity at the time.

The egregious hypocrisy on display by the President of the United States, ready to condemn alleged gun violence from the left (a suspect has not yet been identified in the Portland shooting) but unwilling to do the same when one of his own supporters is shooting at Black Lives Matter protestors is a blatant play to appease his base, who have been publicly calling for the release of Rittenhouse over slayings they believe to have been justified.

And while justifying killings of people who aren’t from his own political base is a despicable double standard, the decision to stoke division and essentially encourage violence from the right is, unfortunately, what has come to be expected from Trump.

Advertisement Hide

Biden, on the other hand, spoke up later that night, denouncing all of the violent clashes.

“Tonight, the president declined to rebuke violence. He wouldn’t even repudiate one of his supporters who is charged with murder because of his attacks on others,” Biden said. “He is too weak, too scared of the hatred he has stirred to put an end to it.”

He continued: “So once again, I urge the president to join me in saying that while peaceful protest is a right — a necessity — violence is wrong, period. No matter who does it, no matter what political affiliation they have. Period.”

Share this article
*First Published: September 1, 2020, 6:49 am