The Kenosha, WI riots and shootings: initial lessons learned

There’s a whole lot of confusion surrounding events in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the past few days.  What’s clear is that after police shot a man there, rioters torched numerous businesses in the town, and appear to have tried to intimidate townsfolk.  This led to an armed encounter on Tuesday evening in which two rioters were shot dead and at least one was severely injured (possibly maimed for life, if photographs of his wound are anything to go by).

The young man responsible for the shooting, Kyle Rittenhouse, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder, but whether he committed an offense or acted in self-defense will be up to the courts to decide.  He’s already being elevated to the status of an ideological martyr by some partisan observers, which is not helpful to him or anyone else.  In the absence of more detailed information, it’s impossible for outsiders like ourselves to be sure what happened.

Nevertheless, there are very important lessons to be learned from this incident, lessons that affect the safety and security of every one of us.  I’ll attempt a first-pass analysis here, and follow up with more detailed discussion as and when more information emerges.

First, what was Mr. Rittenhouse doing in the area?  He lived twelve miles away, in another state.  It’s been said that he was a member of “a local militia group“.  If so, how many of them were also from outside Kenosha, and what were all of them doing there?  It’s one thing for local residents to defend their own property and families from riots and protests.  It’s another for outsiders, with no personal stake in the situation, to join in.  We object (and rightly so) to rioters being brought in from outside to make the situation worse.  How is it wrong for them to do that, but not wrong for the other side to do the same?  Two wrongs don’t make one rightgoose, meet gander;  etc.

Second, why have the rioters been permitted to create mayhem in Kenosha for three nights in a row?  It’s obvious the authorities have not sought to crack down on their illegal behavior.  Why?  The innocent residents of Kenosha are being thrown to the wolves in the name of political correctness and “community sensitivity”.  That’s insane.  If law and order is being so swiftly applied to Mr. Rittenhouse, why was (and is) it not being applied in equal measure, and just as rigorously, to the rioters?  Equality before the law, much?  I presume Mr. Rittenhouse’s lawyer(s) will bring up that point when it comes to his trial.  However, if the authorities are determined to appease the rioters and/or their communities, others are going to get short shrift.  If you live in an area where that’s a factor, take note, because it’ll directly affect your ability to defend yourself, your loved ones and your property.  You can’t protect them if you’re locked up, while the rioters you sought to keep away are still out on the streets and hungry for revenge against you and yours.

That brings up a point I’ve made many times before in these pages.  Some areas, places and positions are simply not defensible.  If you live in an area where there are few, if any, defenses against riots and unrest, and where the authorities can’t be trusted to defend neighborhoods and residents, you’re on a hiding to nothing if you try to do what they won’t do.  It’ll be far better in the long run for you to take your family and get the hell out of the way of the problem.  That’s not cowardly, or “surrendering to the mob”:  it’s realistic.  Why get locked up for years, perhaps for the rest of your life, to defend what basically cannot be defended against such an onslaught?  Choose wisely, and as far in advance of the need as you can.  Property can be replaced.  Lives can’t.  Your family can’t.

Let’s look at the charges brought against Mr. Rittenhouse.  Prosecutors claim he fled from Wisconsin to Illinois to avoid prosecution, but that’s a very flimsy allegation indeed, considering that he reported to police immediately after the shootings, and they allegedly told him to go home and await further contact.

Andrew Branca is a well-known defense attorney and author of “The Law of Self Defense” (which I highly recommend, BTW).

Mr. Branca had this to say about the prosecutor’s allegations.

The phrase you’re looking for is “consciousness of guilt evidence,” but it’s inapplicable to this case. It’s intended to apply to persons who are attempting to avoid actual criminal liability by flight or tampering with evidence or lying to the police. Think “Bernie Goetz fleeing subway car after shooting the men who attacked him, and running to CT to hide” as a more classic example of consciousness of guilt flight. That’s not what happened here.

Here, Rittenhouse immediately turned himself over to police while still at the scene of the shooting, so he clearly wasn’t attempting to avoid responsibility or identification or avoid prosecution–he knew the authorities knew who he was and where they could find him.

More likely the Trayvon-Martin-aged Rittenhouse simply didn’t understand that he was prohibited from just going home, if going home meant leaving the state.

I know the complaint against him states that he was fleeing for purposes of avoiding prosecution, but that’s a presumption–note there’s no evidence cited in support of that claim. And if I had $1 for every profoundly defective and falsified criminal complaint I saw in an apparently clear-cut case of self-defense, I’d have more BMW motorcycles in my garage.

Rittenhouse is apparently, based on known evidence, no more guilty of murder in this event than Officer Chauvin is guilty of murdering George Floyd or Officer Rolfe is guilty of murdering Rayshaad Brooks or the McCloskeys are guilty of unlawful use of weapons when facing down a threatening mob outside their home.

There’s more at the link.  It’s going to make one heck of a court case, that’s for sure . . .

Note that at least some of those who were shot were chasing Mr. Rittenhouse, and were armed and/or engaged in assaulting him.  Photographic evidence shows that he was kicked, and struck with a skateboard.  Defending oneself against violent attack is not a crime.  A third man who was shot was himself armed – photographs clearly show him holding a handgun – and was allegedly a convicted felon as well, which would make it illegal for him to possess a firearm.  It’s far from clear that Mr. Rittenhouse was doing anything other than defend himself against illegal attack.  Whether or not he did anything to cause or precipitate those events is as yet unknown.

There’s also photographic evidence that some of the rioters who pursued and/or attacked Mr. Rittenhouse were wearing badges identifying themselves as “medics” or “press”.  As one observer notes:

I have seen over and over these past three months Antifa complaining that the cops were “attacking” their medics which is a war crime and whatnot. I might be mistaken, but you cannot be a combatant and claim the alleged respect given to medics.  There have been plenty of claims of people (undercover Antifa/BLM) prancing around, camera in hand with PRESS patches attached to their chest and backs, only to join the fracas when they think nobody is looking.

Those wearing such badges are now likely to be identified as rioters by that fact alone.  Certainly, if I see such identifiers, I’ll be more on my guard than ever, and prepared to act in my own defense against them if necessary.

Let’s look for a moment at the rifle used by Mr. Rittenhouse.  An enlarged detail from a photograph in a report by CBS Chicago shows us his weapon.

It looks like a stock-standard low-cost entry-level AR-15 carbine, the sort I recommended a few months ago in my articles on personal defense rifles.  Its only add-on accessory appears to be a simple red dot sight;  from the arrangement of the controls and battery housing, it resembles a Sightron unit or something similar.  There’s nothing exceptional about the weapon, but it did exactly what it was supposed to do when it was needed.  The results of the shooting are testimony to its effectiveness.

Now let’s look at the broader implications of this incident.  I think it illustrates the reality that attitudes are hardening.  More and more Americans are saying “Enough!” when confronted by Antifa and BLM rioters.  They’re no longer willing to cower in their homes and be intimidated.  I can only approve of this in the strongest possible terms.

Herschel Smith points out:

It only escalates from here.  The sides don’t sit back, ponder what’s happened, and then suddenly decide that this might have been a misadventure and badly conceived project.  Anger builds.  Memories are made.  This all redounds to increasing levels of violence.  Once this spigot has been opened, it’s extremely difficult to close it.

Mr. Smith has two other very informative articles on his blog, both of which I highly recommend:

You should read both.

I draw to your attention two articles I published last month:

I stand by all I said in those articles.  If you don’t remember it, please re-read them before continuing here.  They’re very important, particularly in the light of Andrew Branca’s comments above.

Back already?  Good.  Let’s continue.

If you choose to defend yourself, your loved ones, your home and your community against such violence, expect to be targeted during and after the fact by the rioters and their supporters.  They’ll try to film or photograph you, and use that to identify you, and then come after you, as they did in Hugo, MN last week.  Therefore, make it as difficult as possible for them to do that.

  • Over and above the precautions I mentioned in those two earlier articles, consider wearing simple, nondescript clothing that can easily blend in with your surroundings.  Avoid identifying colors, patches, signs or slogans.  If they’re there, cover them with paint or permanent marker.  If you look like everyone else, it’s hard to pin you down.
  • Note how Antifa and BLM rioters wear head coverings and other material that makes it hard to identify them.  Follow their example.  Medical face masks, such as those commonly used to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19, make facial recognition much more difficult.  So do ski masks, pull-up devices such as neck gaiters, and similar clothing.  Outdoor recreation hats and caps can help preserve your privacy, as can protective helmets (safety, motorcycle, etc.).  Safety glasses, particularly those with clear lenses and a mirror finish (such as this pair, which I like because they’re comfortable and don’t fog up when worn with medical face masks), can be worn even at night, and protect your eyes and upper face from prying eyes.  What’s more, buying multiple sets can be very inexpensive, so you can equip your entire family or team.  Finally, move discreetly, and use cover and concealment where it’s available.
  • Make sure that whatever clothing and equipment you choose to wear won’t interfere with defending yourself, if necessary.  Test them at the shooting range to check that for yourself – don’t take anyone else’s word for it.  What’s more, if you wear or use anything readily identifiable during a riot situation, discard it/them immediately afterwards.  Crushing and/or shredding and/or burning comes to mind – don’t just toss them in the trash.  Also, make sure that any such clothing or equipment still in your possession looks different from what you’ve discarded.  Remember, too, that if you buy them online, there’s a paper and/or financial trail that may lead to you.  Rather buy from stores and pay in cash, for greater privacy and security.
  • Wear gloves, to protect your hands, and clothes and footwear that will allow rapid movement if necessary.  Flip-flops or sliders are right out!  Make sure any identifying features such as scars or tattoos are covered.
  • Remember that you don’t only have to worry about video recording by rioters and demonstrators.  Public and private security cameras may record your movements and activities in many neighborhoods.  Try to identify in advance areas covered by such devices, and either avoid them or make sure they can’t identify you (or your vehicle) as you pass.  They don’t necessarily have to see your face to do so;  techniques such as gait analysis can also pin you down.  You should regard yourself as under surveillance at all times, and conduct yourself accordingly.

Does that sound over the top?  Too much trouble?  Take another look at the video and photographic coverage of Mr. Rittenhouse’s encounter, and decide for yourself.  He was very easily identifiable, wasn’t he?  Note, too, that many of the rioters who pursued him were not.  They’d taken precautions against that.

I’ll let Tom Luongo have the last word.

It would always come to this. At some point there would be a reckoning for BLM and Antifa.

The shootings in Kenosha, WI are a dividing line for America.

This is the moment where normal people finally said, “Enough. There will be consequences. “

This is a war between radicalized lunatics bathed in unquenchable envy and self-pity and those who refuse to act like victims.

But they are victims.

All of us are. On both sides of the divide.

We are victims of a vicious program to divide and conquer the U.S. through a culture war designed to dehumanize each other.

We fight among ourselves over scraps while the people who manipulated events to this point walk away laughing at the destruction.

They want the violence. They love it. They relish it. It brings them power and prestige.

To maintain their power, as the systems they’ve built fail, they have set us against each other: paid looters and rioters to become cannon fodder in their war against common decency, culture, communities and family.

All for control over the levers of political power.

. . .

We are up against people who brook no limit on their behavior. Everything is justified in the pursuit of their righteous cause. You can see in it all the video footage.

And they know it. They know that we’d rather not fight back. That, unfortunately, to people empowered by the mob and turned into bullies, is misinterpreted as weakness.

Having humanity is not weakness. It is strength.

And nothing bursts the bubble of false bravado on display by Anfita/BLM at this point than strength of character, which defines limits, creates boundaries and establishes consequences.

The sad truth is that this is only the beginning of what’s to come. The line is crossed and from town to town, that line will be more difficult to assess than ever before.

The myth of policing is failing. There aren’t enough cops to quell these riots. The State has been revealed as their enablers.

The law has been used against property owners told they shouldn’t defend themselves or their businesses.

They’ve been afraid of being the ones who cross the line while the looters overwhelm the streets. That impulse will continue to wither. This anarcho-tyranny will not stand for much longer.

That’s what we saw it on the streets of Kenosha.

We’ll see more of it, until a new form of order asserts itself.

That gets it said.



  1. Peter, a tip from the Troubles. Clothing from second-hand stores is good because of all the multiple people who have left traces on it. Just saying…

  2. Side note: part of the trouble seems to be that Rittenhouse fired into the crowd while they were pursuing him, and then someone, probably him, fired into the crowd after they started running away.

    Regardless of your opinion of this particular portion of self-defense law, if someone died or was injured as a result of the second set of shots, whoever fired them is guilty of a crime.

    The first-degree homicide charge, however, smells of prosecutorial overreach, purposes unknown. Proving premeditation (barring the discovery of some kind of psychotic text messages/social media posts) will be virtually impossible if his defense attorney has the good sense God gave a grasshopper.

  3. From the last montage of videos the 1st shooting was at the car lot. The 17 year old teenage suspect was being chased down by a mob. One individual with a red shirt (a 36 year old) is seen throwing something at the teen while chasing him into the car lot. The TEEN runs, turns around as he reaches a funnel and several shots are fired. Red shirt guy falls from a gun shot. The TEEN circles back around some vehicles and is seen calling someone on the phone. The TEEN takes off as the crowd starts yelling.

    The TEEN runs away down the street pursued by a mob. He trips and several from the mob crowd him trying to get his rifle. One guy tries to jump stomp him. Another (a 26 year old) tries to bash his head in with a skate board, he is shot in the torso. Another guy (also 26) comes at him with a pistol in his hand. He gets shot in the arm.

    NOTE: the first guy shot is seen on video from earlier in the night taunting the "militia" "members" to the effect of "go ahead and point that gun at me n!@@@@s, I'll shove it…" He was looking for a fight.

    NOTE ALSO: The 17 year old suspect is seen in earlier videos and photos, cleaning graffiti, explaining his motives for, seeking first aid for someone who got pepper sprayed.

    When I wake up I can find all the various videos/articles that support this timeline.

  4. @Tom said: part of the trouble seems to be that Rittenhouse fired into the crowd while they were pursuing him, and then someone, probably him, fired into the crowd after they started running away.


    The suspect did not randomly shoot people in the crowd. He fired as few shots as possible and only at those close enough and presenting themselves as a direct threat to the suspect.

    A 36 year old who was chasing him down and got him cornered. This is the only time multiple shots were fired by the suspect.

    A 26 year old who swung a skateboard at the TEENs head.

    A 26 year old who approached him with a gun in their hand.

  5. Antifa tactics id'd by intel sources indicate "medics" are controllers of the crowd, guiding them or herding them more like it, even directing them to stop looting one business and guiding them to loot another instead. they wear markers, in this case a red shirt tail sticking out under black outerwear. the "press" guys have same marking but carry a ridiculously oversized telephoto camera which they use to point key personnel in the direction they want immediate attack. intel has noted radio vans that these key people go to for direction. there are also guys on bikes patrolling the perimeter all too interested in the goings on. recon? oversight? not sure but involved, not passers by. intel has also i'd. agents of some other group apparently tracking and marking the rioter's key personnel, but their degree of fieldcraft i too good to be determine their origin. all this is open source i picked up from another sight, former intel dude, and not my own observation but i can see his assessment is accurate in this case for sure. WHO are these people? Who are the trackers? this is getting real spooky. i'm getting that churning in my gut telling me this isn't going to end well, you know, like when the woods suddenly go silent.

  6. @riverrider said: intel has also i'd. agents of some other group apparently tracking and marking the rioter's key personnel, but their degree of fieldcraft i too good to be determine their origin.


    Well, in the film version, a retired group of special forces veterans decide to gather intel to take down the command and control structure of the entire ANTIFA organization in America.

    With as much video out there from these protests/riots it shouldn't be to hard to pick out repeating characters and patterns.

  7. Regarding the "Unknown Actors" observed within some of the riots…

    While this is the end of this report on the Antifa C&C structure, it is worth noting that, in the observations taken from video footage, there is a suggestion of an ‘Unknown Actor’ (UA) within the activites involved in the looting. This UA is, like Antifa, organized, and can have many operatives within the mob at any given point. This UA does not appear to be engaging in escalation, rather appears to be most focused on ‘tagging’ the Antifa, with the presumed goal of identifying active members. These ‘tagging’ incidents have been observed employing very sophisticated UV light reflective paint ‘dots’ and ‘lines’ being placed on individual Antifa by UA agents using what appears to be a ‘nylon tipped marker’. Several of these markers with no product identifying marks have been recovered in debris following looting episodes. Also in one instance, a small bag of magnetic field reflective ‘dots’ of self-adhesive vinyl was also recovered. It is assumed that UA is using these as trace & track methods for their own purposes. The UA agents are exceptionally well trained and disciplined, exhibiting awareness of video activity sufficient to allow these agents to not yet be identified.

  8. Can't agree with your analysis about "outsiders." There's a huge difference between someone coming from outside to cause trouble, generate violence, burn buildings, etc., and someone coming from outside to help defend and protect.

  9. On wearing identifiable items.

    if you wear or use anything readily identifiable during a riot situation, discard it/them immediately afterwards.

    If the item has appeared in your or your friends social media or in a camera that can be used to identify you (think cashier or teller) trashing it is of little value.

    Pick generic stuff and stick to it, the more popular the item the less value it has for trackers.

  10. The "militia" really needs a spiffy uniform.

    Looked like a rag tag collection of gun groupies to me. some with training and discipline, some without.

    I would suggest all green, green balaclava and mask, green tactical helmet, green plate carrier, etc… American flag and State flag on the left. Militia tag on the right.

    Time to muster up and regulate that militia, maybe…

  11. What "Ruralcounsel" said.

    If you are there to defend against a mob intent on burning and looting, then it isn't the same.

    Personally, I think that if they are importing people to stop the Mon, they'd be better served equipping each defender with a baseball bat and clearing the streets the old fashioned way. One, maybe two instances of that sort of defense would likely change the tactics of the Mob. It might even stop the behavior immediately and for good. Broken bones, broken ribs, dented skulls, etc. A sound beating often changes one's worldview for good.

  12. @B:

    that turns into a numbers game, and currently, the mob can generate too many people to make your idea feasible. Getting swarmed is no way to accomplish the mission. Now, if the defenders were equipped like a Roman Legion it might work, however the rioters are already carrying guns, so screw that, unless you also have a sniper overwatch to handle that problem.

  13. Remember the history of the Old West, when the law abiding people want peace, they will get it by any means necessary. The people who get it for them are universally not nice people and obtain peace through not nice methods.

    Antifa, BLM and ilk have no limiter. They will keep pushing further and further. If our government will not perform its job, then some citizens will step up. If the government does not want vigilantes then it needs to address the riots ASAP. Side note, what are the chances that 3 peaceful protesters who were shot were all felons? Something stinks on ice.

    Politicians are playing games. I suspect those who respect the law and who know enough of history and human nature are praying daily if not hourly that our government will take its job seriously and begin shutting these riots down. It is only a very small number of people who are driving this. Take the organizers and motivators out and we can begin deescalation. I suspect at least some of the people involved want to panic people to the point that only government intervention can save them. This is about political power. One side believes they can take it via fear and intimidation, i.e. bullying. Victor Davis Hanson has a nice talk on Patton and in it he talks about how a leisured civilized society can't really fathom violence and war. There are plenty of veterans who can, but they are disciplined. If the government does not step in there will be a battle of Concord, there will be a Fort Sumpter. At that point the government will no longer be in control. At that point we basically default to gang warfare. The people playing this game are arrogant enough to think they are the ones smart enough to finally get it right.

  14. could the "victimS" be ones let out from prison for covid? Hillary pulled the same deal in Iraq, let the isis ring leader out to attack Syria but he went rogue and attacked us instead. same deal in lybia. pattern here?…..yeah the unsubs tracking Antifa could be anybody, and yes they are THAT good that they themselves couldn't be tracked. they must be spooks, but what country/org. CIA operating in the homeland? Q ANON gone active? the presidents blackwater security? i have no idea and no info to base one on. i hope somebody is looking at is on our side. i'm loading mags and moving my heavy weps up top.

  15. Twelve miles travel is local, artificial state lines notwithstanding, it is about the distance for a local boy scout canoe race in my bend of the bayou. I have been hauling around rifles and shotguns with no adult supervision since I was 12 years old and that is hardly unusual here in Acadiana.

  16. I agree with what Chip Anderson says about the distance. In fact it's more than that.

    As I understand it, it is common for people in Northern Illinois to do as much business as they can in lower taxed Wisconsin. Kenosha is the first major city in WI and essentially borders IL. It therefore seems likely that the shooter would have friends and acquaintances in Kenosha

  17. Can't agree with your analysis about "outsiders." There's a huge difference between someone coming from outside to cause trouble, generate violence, burn buildings, etc., and someone coming from outside to help defend and protect.

    Agreed. That highlighted twelve miles away!!!!!< had me rolling my eyes. Twelve miles away is the soccer field where the Daughter Product used to practice, the schools I visit, the local business that catered my daughter's christening …

    Bussed in from Chicago is "outsiders" Twelve miles away is helping your neighbors survive a mob hit.


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