TFTP has been covering protests of all types for years including the Ferguson protests over Michael Brown to the right wing protests against lockdowns earlier this year. While there has always been looting and rioting, violence, especially gun violence, has been extremely rare — even in instances in which hundreds of people are carrying guns. That was then, this is now. It appears that violence at protests has gone from rare to routine as several high profile shootings have taken place across the country between ostensible rivals.
The most recent act of violence garnering headlines took place in Denver, Colorado over the weekend when Lee Keltner, a right-wing demonstrator, was shot and killed after he assaulted Matthew Dolloff, a reporter’s bodyguard.
Dolloff was working as a security guard for a local reporter when an argument escalated in less than 10 seconds to deadly force. The entire scene was captured on video and close up shots from a Denver Post photographer.
The initial argument began between Keltner and another man wearing a “Black Guns Matter” shirt and for some unknown reason, Keltner approached the reporter for Denver’s NBC affiliate, 9 News, and Dolloff, the bodyguard provided to the station by Pinkerton security. Within seconds, Keltner would hit Dolloff, pepper spray him, and then be killed. It is my personal view that pepper spray is hardly a reason for deadly force, whether or not it will be deemed justified will be up to the courts.
— Rusty 5D (@rustyyyyy69) October 10, 2020
After the shooting, Twitter blew up with false claims that Dolloff was an Antifa protester and rally calls for civil war followed. But Dolloff was not Antifa and even the police had to go public to dispel the disinformation.
“Further investigation has determined the suspect is a private security guard with no affiliation with Antifa. Additional information will be released as it becomes available,” the Denver police department tweeted out.
Update: Further investigation has determined the suspect is a private security guard with no affiliation with Antifa. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.
— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) October 11, 2020
Many on the right have used Dolloff’s social media posts to attempt to paint him as Antifa, however, they have fallen seriously short. Dolloff was undoubtedly leftist but after scrolling through his Twitter and Facebook, he also supported conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer and gun rights. While we found lots of posts about Guns Shows, UFC fights, and raising turkeys, we found absolutely no posts supporting Antifa.
Despite all the information about the shooting, many of the conservative pundits on Twitter have refused to correct their statements, thus fueling more divide and hatred — all based on lies. Whether or not you agree with the use of deadly force by Dolloff is one thing, but falsely associating him with a group to further your political cause by stoking unnecessary fear and hatred is irresponsible at best and incredibly dangerous at worst. Sadly, truth doesn’t seem to matter too much these days.
Another one of these high profile shootings took place in August in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, stands accused of killing two protesters in Kenosha. He is facing multiple homicide charges after two people were killed and a third person was seriously injured while chasing him down during the protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Just like the shooting in Denver, this shooting took place at a protest. Like Dolloff, Rittenhouse was being attacked when he opened fire. And, like Dolloff, the scene was captured on video.
Kenosha and Denver are also similar in the fact that villains and heroes were declared at both events. Depending on which political football team you support Rittenhouse is either a hero or a terrorist, the same goes for his attackers. Also, depending on which side of the left-right paradigm you subscribe to, Dolloff is either a hero or a terrorist and Keltner is either a hero or a terrorist.
Truth, due process, facts, investigations, and context all take a back seat these days to partisan based emotional reaction. This — as we are seeing across the country — is not good.
Outside of Rittenhouse and Dolloff killing people, shootings, killings, and beatings have taken place in other cities as well, like Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, and elsewhere. To understand the increase in violence at protests, we have to look at the sheer number of protests which have taken place this year.
The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) is a disaggregated data collection, analysis, and crisis mapping project that collects raw data on political violence and protest events across the world. According to ACLED, the US has seen an unprecedented surge in protests in 2020. Between 24 May and 22 August, ACLED recorded more than 10,600 demonstration events across the country.
While many will attempt to paint all the protests as violent, 95% or rather 10,100 took place without property damage or violence. While 95% is certainly the overwhelming majority, that does leave over 500 protests which devolved into demonstrators engaging in violence and property damage. Hundreds of instances of property damage and violence is no small number but in comparison to the total number of protests, it certainly is.
The media — depending on which side they are on — are only interested in one of these numbers, leaving consumers of their product completely blind to the other set of data. We are now witnessing the results of such feckless and divisive reporting and it is literally manifesting into bodies in the street.
This has to stop.
TFTP recently sat down with an award winning live streamer who described the propensity of protests in 2020 to turn violent like they have never done so before. Violence only begets more violence and unless people start thinking for themselves instead of simply parroting the narratives from their political parties, this will get worse.
This is no secret. If anyone has watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix, experts across many fields are predicting civil war or worse if we don’t step out of our bias confirming bubbles and seek peace with those who the media tells us to hate.
It is entirely acceptable and often necessary to be angry and passionate about your ideologies. But if you want to express them to others who may not share the same ideologies in an attempt to sway their views, anger and passion are poor tools at convincing others. No one’s mind was ever changed by an asshole who insulted and yelled at them.
More people would do well to realize this because social media and many of these protests have been a dumpster fire of hate and anger and it seems to be getting worse. We would all do well to dig down deep and pull out some empathy from time to time. You will be surprised to find out how much you have in common with someone your politic-reinforcing blowhards tell you to hate.
History shows us that divide and close-mindedness go hand and hand with less freedom and more suffering, no matter the political football team you root for. Do we want to yell at each other until we turn the planet into a nuclear fallout zone or can we lay our differences aside and have an honest conversation about achieving peace? The choice is yours.
“When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns it’s back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.”
― Frédéric Bastiat, Economic Harmonies