Newspaper tells the stories of the victims in Kenosha protest shootings

    A display made in Civic Park, Kenosha, the site of recent protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake. (Photo by Isiah Holmes)
    A display made in Civic Park, Kenosha, the site of recent protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake. (Photo by Isiah Holmes)

    The Washington Post has published an in-depth account of the Aug. 25 Kenosha shootings in which an Illinois teenager killed two men and wounded a third — going deeper than the heavily politicized narratives of the incident.

    The Post’s reporting about the third night of demonstrations following the police shooting of Jacob Blake focuses on the backgrounds of the victims — Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, Anthony Huber, 26, who both died, and Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, who survived — and how they came to be downtown on the third night of protest against the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha Police.

    “Within hours, the three men and the teenager who shot them were assigned roles in the country’s churning partisan drama,” the Post wrote. Rightwing commentary portrayed the victims as “antifa foot soldiers” while protest sympathizers viewed them as “anti-racist martyrs,” according to the story.

    “The real story of the Kenosha shootings offers a different view of the sometimes-chaotic protests and counterprotests that have shaken American cities this summer,” the story states. “The confrontation between Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum, and the bloodshed that followed, was more accidental than political — the product of anger, alienation and a tragic, chance encounter between a mentally ill man and a heavily armed teenager.”

    The newspaper’s account relied on court records, videos taken of the protests and interviews with “more than three dozen of the victims’ friends and relatives,” according to the story.

    It gives a detailed account of how Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, the Illinois youth facing homicide and other charges in the shootings, killed Rosenbaum — whose fiancée told Post reporters, “Why was he there? I have no answer. I ask myself that question every day.”

    The story describes police use of “stun grenades, tear gas, rubber bullets and armored vehicles to disperse the crowds” in Kenosha that night.  Grosskreutz, a volunteer protest medic, and Huber both chased Rittenhouse, and Rittenhouse shot Huber in the chest after Huber had swung a skateboard at Rittenhouse and tried to disarm him.

    Of Huber, a friend told the newspaper, “I wouldn’t say he was political, but I think he definitely hated racists.”

    Grosskreutz, a veteran of nearly 100 Black Lives Matter protests who was providing medical aid to demonstrators that night, had a concealed-carry permit and carried a pistol. He gave chase to Rittenhouse, his gun drawn, when Rittenhouse shot him, wounding Grosskreutz in his right arm.

    “People are ascribing motives to people that don’t even exist . . . communist, antifa, whatever,” Grosskreutz told the newspaper later. “I’m just a person. I’m a human being. I was never there to hurt anybody.”

    Meanwhile,  Mother Jones on Monday posted a profile of the lawyers representing Rittenhouse, who have depicted the case as part of a larger culture war, with one of them “pushing a conspiracy theory to his 191,000-plus Twitter followers that liberals are planning a violent coup against the White House, and that freedom-loving Americans will need to fight back,” according to the magazine.

    States the article: “Rittenhouse may not have planned to become a cause célèbre in this fight between the left and right, but his attorneys appear to be making him out as one.”

    Erik Gunn
    Senior Reporter Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, along with related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.