Wisconsin Weekly: Vigilantes inject danger into police brutality protests in Kenosha, nationwide

Voting changes; vigilante dangers; eviction moratorium; Facebook failings; Milwaukee marchers

Of note: This week we highlight our coverage of increasing tensions at racial justice protests nationwide and voting changes ahead of the November election.

Jim Malewitz and Vanessa Swales examine the widely disseminated calls to arms that preceded the fatal shooting of two racial justice protesters and the wounding of a third last week in Kenosha. Experts say hands-off, even chummy, interactions between police and armed vigilantes in Kenosha are not unusual as such groups mobilize at racial justice protests.

Meanwhile, reporter Max Witynski describes what voters need to know as elections officials aim to make mail-in balloting easier — trying to avoid a repeat of problems seen in April when absentee ballots were lost in transit or never sent, and 23,000 ballots were rejected because of voter errors or late arrival.

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Courtesy of Brendan Gutenschwager via Twitter

A video posted on Twitter appears to show Kyle Rittenhouse approaching police with his hands up after allegedly killing two protesters in Kenosha and wounding another, on Tuesday, Aug. 25. Police did not immediately arrest him, even as onlookers yelled that he was the shooter. Rittenhouse was later arrested in Illinois and now faces two charges of first-degree homicide, one charge of attempted murder and three other charges.

‘I just killed somebody’: Vigilantes inject danger into police brutality protests in Kenosha, nationwide

Wisconsin Watch — August 28, 2020

Kyle Rittenhouse’s rapid descent to accused killer illustrated the stakes of what experts call a growing trend: Militias, far-right groups and other armed vigilantes — often mobilized on social media  — showing up at racial justice protests, escalating chaos and danger during showdowns between protesters and law enforcement.

Related coverage: Before Jacob Blake, Kenosha had a history of police shootings

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Election workers Jeff and Lori Lutzka, right, process absentee ballots at Milwaukee’s central count facility on Aug. 11. Wisconsin elections officials are taking multiple steps to make mail-in voting smoother in November, when most people are expected to vote absentee.

Wisconsin tells voters to request ballots now in push to improve mail-in voting

Wisconsin Watch — September 2, 2020

Wisconsin election officials are working to avoid a repeat of the state’s chaotic presidential primary and ensure a smooth, largely mail-in voting process in November. Still, big challenges remain, especially when it comes to minimizing disenfranchisement and counting votes quickly.

Related coverage: What you need to know now about mail-in voting in Wisconsin | Wisconsin GOP rep supports mail-in voting, despite Trump’s fraud claims

How Facebook failed Kenosha

BuzzFeed News — September 3, 2020

After the Kenosha shooting that left two protesters dead and another injured, Facebook said an “operational failure” had caused the company not to heed more than 450 reports that an event hosted by the Kenosha Guard was advocating violence. BuzzFeed discovered the group itself took down the event — but only after the shootings. Wisconsin Watch assisted in the reporting by providing BuzzFeed with screenshots of the militia group’s page before it was taken down by Facebook.

What the new federal eviction moratorium means

Bloomberg CityLab — September 2, 2020

Some housing experts are relieved by the four-month ban by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ban on evictions — but uneasy about the Trump administration’s uncommonly quiet rollout.

(Jack Gruber / USA TODAY)

Damien Hudson carries his son Ktaemon Hudson, 7, during the ‘Get Off Our Necks’ Commitment March on Washington on August, 28.

Some with bleeding feet, group of determined Milwaukee marchers make it to DC: ‘It’s indescribable’

USA Today — August 28, 2020 

After enduring blistered feet, arrests, harassment and a spray of gunfire over the course of weeks, dozens of people marching from Milwaukee 750 miles to protest police brutality arrived in the nation’s capital on the anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington.

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