Four days after police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shot Jacob Blake seven times as his three young sons watched from the backseat of his car, former Fox News darling Megyn Kelly is using her online platform to defend the officers. In a series of tweets, Kelly repeatedly pushed the racist, pro-police talking point that Black victims of police violence, including Blake, were resisting arrest — and therefore responsible for their own brutalization.
Early Thursday morning, Kelly implied that Kenosha police acted appropriately when they shot Blake because, she tweeted, he “was armed with a KNIFE.” Journalists and activists were quick to call her out, accusing her of “spreading white nationalist talking points,” while also stating the facts of what happened during the altercation. Blake wasn’t carrying a weapon on his person. Though Wisconsin police said Blake told them he had a knife in his car, not only is that not illegal, but it also hasn’t been corroborated. Police officers aren’t exactly reliable sources, either — especially when reporting instances of police violence.
“Wisconsin law does not restrict the possession and carry of knives either openly or concealed,” said Frederick Joseph, a philanthropist and former national surrogate for the Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders campaigns. “And further, even if he has a knife, the sentence for that isn’t death by seven bullets,” added writer Roxane Gay. The 29-year-old survived the shooting but is partially paralyzed.
Let’s clear something up: Whether a person is innocent or guilty, armed or unarmed, state killings should never be the goal, or an acceptable outcome. There is no excuse for this kind of thing happening time and time again. And, Kelly’s comments continue to push a racist narrative that serves to further dehumanize Black victims of police violence.
During her time at Fox News, Kelly was known for her racist commentary and frequently invited hate group leaders and extremists on her show, according to the progressive watchdog organization Media Matters for America. After police killed Michael Brown in 2014, Kelly pushed the same narrative, arguing the police were justified because he was allegedly armed. She later defended racist emails sent by Ferguson police and court employees.
Kelly’s latest comments are consistent with her Fox News roots. The network’s TV personalities used their air time on Wednesday to excuse the murders of two Kenosha protesters the night before, and spread false information about the man who shot them. As activists rightly point out, narratives like this — and Kelly’s own stance — will only enable future acts of white supremacist violence.
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