The fatal shooting of two Black Lives Matter activists in Wisconsin was a harbinger of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol less than 20 months later, according to a new analysis by The New York Times magazine that was published online on Tuesday.
The story focused on Kyle Rittenhouse, who is standing trial for killing two men in Kenosha after traveling to Wisconsin from Illinois.
"They called themselves citizens or patriots, and the demonstrators and media often called them militias, but it would have been most accurate to call them paramilitaries: young-to-middle-aged white men, mostly, armed with assault-style rifles and often clad in tactical gear, who appeared in town that evening arrayed purposefully around gas stations and used-car lots. Their numbers, based on video footage and firsthand accounts, may have run anywhere from the high dozens to the low hundreds, but no official estimates were made. Law-enforcement officers seemed to have broadly tolerated, and occasionally openly expressed support for, their activities, despite the fact that many of them were violating the same emergency curfew order under which dozens of demonstrators were arrested," Charles Homans wrote.
The reporter interviewed Andy Carvin, the managing editor of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council think tank which tracked extremism leading up to the Kenosha unrest.
"Kenosha was a harbinger of that," Carvin said of the "Stop the Steal" rallies.
"All of these episodes looked, in retrospect, like steppingstones on the way to the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, where a coalition of standard-issue Trump voters, QAnon true believers and militiamen united in an attempt to blow up American democracy in order to save the country from their perceived enemies. We had entered a new era in which there would always be an enemy and someone ready to meet them. It was clear, by then, that what happened in Kenosha was about something much bigger than the buildings that burned there. It did not really matter if dozens of buildings were burning or one was. It did not really matter if buildings were burning at all," The Times reported.
Read the full report.