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Following Attack on Protestors in Kenosha, Brady Reiterates Call For Attention to the Threat of Armed Vigilantism

Washington, D.C., August 26, 2020 – Following the attack on protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in which an armed civilian shot and killed two protestors and injured a third, Brady joins those denouncing armed vigilantes and extremists across the country. The violence last night demonstrated that lax gun laws mixed with vigilante culture result in violence. A 17-year-old has now been charged in connection with this shooting. The individual, a minor, was reportedly “patrolling” Kenosha in response to the ongoing protests for racial justice and police reform, armed with a long gun along with other armed individuals. Kenosha Sheriff David Beth shared with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that there have been armed “militia” groups on Kenosha’s streets the last several nights, not in affiliation with any protests. Last night’s violence shows why adding guns to any situation, especially those that are tense, never makes the situation safer. It is why Sheriff Beth explained that his department did not and would not ‘deputize’ these individuals, “This is why you don’t deputize citizens with guns to protect Kenosha.”

However, this individual was empowered by the state’s permissive firearms laws and messaging from some in key positions of power that encourage consequence free vigilantism for white Americans. That unacceptable reality has left two dead and another injured.

Brady President Kris Brown shared:

“Last night, we saw the tragic and predictable consequences of what happens when guns and an insidious vigilante mindset are added to an already tense situation. Easy access to deadly weapons coupled with this vigilante culture has been responsible for multiple shootings at protests against police violence this year alone. Just this week, two white individuals who threatened peaceful protestors with firearms were celebrated at a national political convention. Permitting intimidation by white, armed vigilantes while seeking to vilify protestors decrying police violence has only served to underscore that we live in a nation with two sliding scales of justice. We experience two Americas. We must disarm hate and we must support good faith efforts to end brutality against Black and Brown Americans, wherever it exists.”

Brady Director of Racial Justice Kelly Sampson shared:

“Last night, a heavily armed vigilante attacked protestors who were condemning police violence and systems that devalue Black life. This is not the first time we have seen such an attack at a protest for racial justice. Vigilantes, often armed with assault-style weapons, have repeatedly patrolled protests this summer with the express purpose of intimidating those demanding an end to police brutality. Many of these vigilantes hold a perverted view of the Second Amendment, in which they have the right to wield firearms to intimidate and confront others. Last night, a 17-year-old empowered by that mentality and Wisconsin’s open carry law, though it does not apply to minors, attacked protestors, claiming two lives. This is unacceptable, but predictable when you mix racism, lax gun culture, and radical rhetoric and that is why we call for reasonable gun regulations and an unflinching reckoning with white supremacy.”

The Team ENOUGH Executive Council shared:

“Black and Brown Americans face both violence at the hands of police and are held to a different standard of ‘peaceful protest,' as we heard today when law enforcement decried property damage when justifying their use of force against protestors. The violence last night is just the latest example. Footage shows that armed, predominately white, vigilantes freely patrolled Kenosha’s streets, while protestors have been met with aggressive and violent responses such as tear gas and rubber bullets for days. This discrepancy is a clear cut example of how racist policy manifests itself through our institutions that Black and Brown Americans face in our country every day.

This shooter was permitted to stand, heavily armed,illegally, in a tense situation. He was not detained by police. Just as we have seen at protests against state closure policies across the country, those with presumed whiteness are protected from accountability and emboldened. That reality in our country means that two more families will forever live with the trauma and grief resulting from this individual taking it upon himself to murder their loved ones. We cannot allow this to continue. We need to dismantle systems rooted in white supremacy.”

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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