Holy Shit

Cory Gardner and Dudley Brown, whose gun rights groups have long supported Gardner’s campaigns

We don’t have to tell you that 2020 has been a very strange year filled with very odd news stories. It’s hard to get surprised by anything anymore, but sometimes it still happens. Like today, for example.

As Justin Wingerter reports for The Denver Post, the Loveland-based National Foundation for Gun Rights (which is associated with the National Association for Gun Rights, or NAGR) announced on Friday that it is raising money for the legal defense of 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with murder after killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin during this week’s protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake:

Rittenhouse, an admirer of law enforcement and President Donald Trump, is seen as a dangerous vigilante by many but has the support of some prominent figures on the political right who believe he was acting in self-defense.

Dudley Brown, executive director of the National Foundation for Gun Rights, says Rittenhouse was peacefully defending himself and businesses when he was attacked by “Antifa thugs.”

Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, WI on Tuesday

“Kyle was doing his best to protect business owners from losing their entire livelihoods when criminal actors instigated violence against him. Unfortunately for them, Kyle was armed with an AR-15 and their rocks, skateboards and handguns stood no chance against his well-placed shots,” Brown said Friday. [Pols emphasis]

Brown was formerly the executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. RMGO and the National Association for Gun Rights were founded on the premise that the National Rifle Association is too liberal and compromising.

“It’s a sad day in America when anti-gun prosecutors want to throw a young man in jail for defending himself against violent attackers,” Brown said. “When we say the Second Amendment is for lawful self-defense, we mean it. Maybe next time rioting thugs will think twice about squaring off against a patriot carrying an AR-15.” [Pols emphasis]

Those vile comments are from the very same Dudley Brown who readers will recognize as the former Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) in Colorado. Brown recently stepped down as the head of RMGO after a round of stinging defeats in the June Republican Primary in Colorado, but he remains the frontman for NAGR, which has designs on becoming the new National Rifle Association (NRA). Brown has deep connections to many Colorado Republicans, including House Minority Leader Pat Neville and Sen. Cory Gardner (NAGR and RMGO donated at least $6,000 to Gardner’s 2014 Senate campaign).

Screenshot from Cory Gardner’s official Congressional website in 2014

Brown’s praise of Rittenhouse ignores some critical context here — namely that the alleged shooter traveled from his home in Illinois to Kenosha for the express purpose of getting into an altercation with Black Lives Matter protestors. Rittenhouse has been arrested and charged with killing two people and shooting a third; a judge today delayed an extradition hearing to allow him more time to secure legal counsel (though right-wing legal activists are scrambling to his defense).

As CNN reports, details of the criminal complaint against Rittenhouse portray a young man who is going to have difficulty convincing a jury that this was all in self-defense:

About 11:45 p.m. Tuesday — hours after the 8 p.m. curfew — Rittenhouse was walking down the streets near the car dealership holding what investigators later determined to be “a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle,” the criminal complaint says.

Social media accounts believed to belong to him portray a young White man with an affinity for guns who supports “Blue Lives Matter” and President Donald Trump. A video posted on a Snapchat account believed to belong to him placed him at the scene of protests Tuesday night. The clips show a few seconds of the point of view of someone carrying a long rifle and police announcements can be heard over loudspeakers.

At those demonstrations, the complaint states, Rittenhouse clashed with people gathered near the car dealership for reasons not specified. Rosenbaum was unarmed and threw an object that appeared to be a plastic bag at him and missed, according to the complaint.

Rosenbaum and the suspect moved across the parking lot and appeared to be in close proximity when loud bangs suddenly rang out and Rosenbaum fell to the ground, according to the complaint.

As Rosenbaum lay on the ground, the suspect made a call on his cellphone and said, “I just killed somebody” as he ran away, the complaint alleges. His friend received a call from him at 11:46 p.m. saying that he shot someone, an investigator says in the complaint. [Pols emphasis]

This is a tragic story for so many reasons. The fact that Brown and NAGR would exploit the situation for fundraising purposes is positively evil.

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  1. ParkHill says:

    WOTD: "Fascism – Conservatives rally behind Rittenhouse, declare his killings justified"

    And one of the defining features of a fascist movement is an eagerness to celebrate redemptivecleansing, or necessary violence; that is, violence against the movement's enemies, always defended as now-required because the normal laws of the state have not been able to contain the hated other, necessitating a more aggressive, and more definitive, violent purge.

  2. ParkHill says:

    WOTD2 from the Guardian: "White supremacists and militias have infiltrated police across US, report says"

    This week, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, faced intense scrutiny over their response to armed white men and militia groups gathered in the city amid demonstrations by Black Lives Matter activists and others over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black father of three who was left paralyzed after being shot in the back. On Wednesday, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who appeared to consider himself a militia member and had posted “blue lives matter” content, was arrested on suspicion of murder after the fatal shooting of two protesters.

    Activists in Kenosha say police there have responded aggressively and violently to Black Lives Matter demonstrators, while doing little to stop armed white vigilantes. Supporting their claims is at least one video taken before the shooting that showed police tossing bottled water to what appeared to be armed civilians, including one who appeared to be the shooter, the AP noted: “We appreciate you being here,” an officer said on loudspeaker.

    Police also reportedly let the gunman walk past them with a rifle as the crowd yelled for him to be arrested because he had shot people, according to witnesses and video reviewed by the news agency.

    The Kenosha sheriff, David Beth, has said the incident was chaotic and stressful.

    German told the Guardian on Wednesday: “Far-right militants are allowed to engage in violence and walk away while protesters are met with violent police actions.” This “negligent response”, he added, empowers violent groups in dangerous and potentially lethal ways: “The most violent elements within these far-right militant groups believe that their conduct is sanctioned by the government. And therefore they’re much more willing to come out and engage in acts of violence against protesters.”

  3. ParkHill says:

    WOTD3 from VOX: "Why police encouraged a teenager with a gun to patrol Kenosha’s streets"

    How can we understand this behavior? Why do the police in Kenosha seem perfectly fine with armed militia members patrolling the streets — behavior that, just minutes later, ended with two people dead? Shouldn’t police want to be the only ones with guns?

    A recent paper by University of Arizona sociologist Jennifer Carlson offers some insight into the police’s behavior. She conducted dozens of hours of interviews about guns with 79 police chiefs in three states — Michigan, California, and Arizona — to try to better understand the way police see armed civilians. 

    Carlson found that police leaders tended to see armed civilians as allies, maybe even informal deputies — provided they fit a set of racially coded descriptors.

    “Police chiefs articulated a position of gun populism based on a presumption of racial respectability,” Carlson writes. “‘Good guys with guns’ were marked off as responsible in ways that reflected white, middle-class respectability.”

    In her research, Carlson distinguishes between two kinds of attitudes police have toward civilian ownership of firearms.

    The first, “gun militarism,” sees armed individuals as a threat to blue lives. “It favors a state monopoly on legitimate violence, whereby police both protected and expanded their own access to firearms while policed and delimited gun access among the racialized, urban populations targeted by the War on Crime,” she writes.

    At other times, the police chiefs she interviewed embraced “gun populism”: the idea that “rather than a threat to stability (as under gun militarism), armed civilians may be imagined as generative of social order.” Gun populism is an “embrace of ‘the people’ and a deep suspicion of elites, especially elite lawmakers who aim to regulate gun access in the United States.” In essence, it’s the National Rifle Association view of gun rights.

    These two frames might seem contradictory. How can you believe both that widespread gun ownership poses a threat to your officers and oppose regulations that aim to limit it?

    Typically, officers got around this dilemma by reference to legal and illegal uses of firearms. The chiefs supported throwing the book at armed criminals, believing that anyone who uses a gun in commission of a crime should face serious jail time. But gun ownership itself should be permitted and maybe even encouraged.

    But here’s the thing: When they talked about gun-wielding criminals, the racialized nature of the language was unmistakable. The criminals they were worried about were described as “urban terrorists,” “gangbangers,” and “illegal immigrants”; their descriptions of respectable gun owners had a very different racial valence.

     

    • Meiner49erMeiner49er says:

      "Gun populism" is just the old German militarist ideal of "Das Volk im Waffen" (The People in Arms) first introduced by Colmar von der Goltz in 1883. The People in Arms, and only the People in Arms, are the citizenry. Everyone else is a threat that the People in Arms must fight.

      As you point out Park Hill, there's no contradiction because it's the "People" in arms as a nationalist concept that matters. Those who are not "the right People" shouldn't be armed, and all those who are not armed clearly aren't the right People.

      • kwtreekwtree says:

        I don’t want to have to start wearing body armor when protesting, but it might be necessary, unless the police stop coddling the white supremacists. It’s the modern day version of lynching – an act intended to intimidate dissenters, to kill or injure them, and to take them out of action. This is part of the “Race War” Trump wants to cultivate to stay in power.

        A car is the vigilante’s weapon of choice during daytime protests, though, and body armor won’t help with that.

        Jennifer Watson, who ran down protesters at the Capitol in May, was finally charged with assault and reckless driving. It’s still in court. The guy who drove a Jeep through a crowd of protesters on 225 is still free and his case is “under investigation. “

        But 5 drivers in Colorado have hit or attempted to run down protesters, and over 40 incidents of this type happened nationwide, according to Ari Weil, a researcher from the University of Chicago. Weil has studied 84 ramming incidents, in which a car struck pedestrian protesters. 
         

        In the 40 other civilian cases, including the Jeep incident in Aurora, Weil is waiting for more information from the legal system to determine motive. But court proceedings aren’t always guaranteed. So far, 36 civilian drivers of the 77 have been charged: Two with attempted murder, three with hit-and-runs, 17 with assault, and 18 with reckless endangerment or driving. Two assault charges also came with hate crime charges..

        The “Run Them Over” message became popular in far-right circles in 2015 and 2016, Weil says, after a few drivers struck Black Lives Matter protesters, as well as Indigenous peoples blocking the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. After right-wing extremist James Alex Fields deliberately drove into a crowd protesting the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally in 2017, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, sympathizers, and some police officers, ( my emphasis)werscrutinized for spreading violent memes containing phrases like “Black Lives Splatter.” A ProPublica investigation later found that, while plannin the Unite the Right rally, white supremacists had made comments about using cars to run over opponents. Some people, including certain officers, have continued engaging in such language. Keith Wrede, a sergeant with the Colorado Springs Police Department, was temporarily suspended after using a fake profile to comment “KILL THEM ALL” and “KILL EM ALL” on a livestream of a protest in late June. CSPD Chief Vince Niski wrote a letter to the public calling the comments “unprofessional, distasteful, and not reflective of our department,” but defended his decision not to outright fire Wrede, saying he did not want to deprive the community of a good officer over an error in judgement.

  4. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    How and why is a 17 year old kid "peacefully defending businesses?" Adult business owners aren't capable of doing that themselves?

    Maybe the Dudster can tell us why a Kenosha cop saw the need to "dry gulch" an unarmed black guy with seven shots in the back?

  5. Genghis says:

    Dudley Brown needs to get a goddamn job. Maybe he'd be slightly less sociopathic if he made his own way in the world and contributed something of value to society instead of sponging off the fruits of others' labor.

    So then:

    – Heavily armed right wingers show up at a protest site in Kenosha, WI, ostensibly to protect property.

    – Kenosha police welcome the wingers with open arms, voicing encouragement over loudspeakers and passing out bottled water. (All caught on video.)

    – Kenosha police intentionally herd protestors toward the heavily armed wingers. (Also caught on video.)

    – The inevitable happens.

    – People in the crowd point out the shooter to Kenosha cops, who let the shooter go on about his business.

    – Kenosha police chief issues a public statement essentially characterizing the shooter as a plucky problem-solver.

    The answer, of course, is more money, more armored vehicles, more automatic weapons and more general military accoutrements for the Kenosha police. And, of course, the most important component of all — absolute, unqualified freedom to fuck with non-whites in any way the Kenosha police goddamn jolly well please.

  6. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    Wisconsin abolished the death penalty in 1853. Too bad — Dudley’s hero might have not have ambushed three men for his evening’s entertainment if he’d known it might cost him. Of course, he’s still 17, so SCOTUS probably wouldn’t allow frying the murderer anyway.

    As it is, kid, don’t pick up the soap.  Your next 60 years in prison ain’t gonna be much fun.

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