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Bernstein writes: "Sheriff David Beth of Kenosha fame is not your everyday racist, like many of us, kept ignorant and frightened by a divided society and culture, where educational and purposeful disinformation reigns supreme and privilege is generally doled out according to the color of your skin and which side of the tracks you hail from."

Kenosha Sheriff David Beth. (photo: Angela Peterson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Kenosha Sheriff David Beth. (photo: Angela Peterson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Don't Expect Justice for Black People in Kenosha if Sheriff Beth Has His Way

By Dennis J Bernstein, Reader Supported News

30 August 20


heriff David Beth of Kenosha fame is not your everyday racist, like many of us, kept ignorant and frightened by a divided society and culture, where educational and purposeful disinformation reigns supreme and privilege is generally doled out according to the color of your skin and which side of the tracks you hail from. 

No, Sheriff Beth is a special kind of racist, funded by a big budget and an extreme-right community, where soon-to-be vigilante killers like 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse are supported and cheered on. Consider what the sheriff said two years ago after a 16-year-old African American teen was in a car accident in Kenosha. The teen and several others in the car were ultimately charged with shoplifting. 

“These people are a cancer on society. These five people need to go away. They are not an asset. I think what we need to do as a society and lawmakers — we need to come up with laws that at a certain threshold, these people just disappear. We build large warehouses and we have individual cells, and we put them in it. We don’t let them back out. We don’t let them carjack cars while we’re pumping gas at gas stations. We don’t let them do drive-by shootings anymore. If they don’t want to get a job, if they don’t want to be an asset to society, we remove them from society. We don’t let these people go out and have more children. We separate them. We put them in places. What we’re doing is we’re allowing our communities to be completely destroyed for our children and our grandchildren and the futures to come.

“We’re allowing these people to come, in this case from Milwaukee, they come from Chicago, they come from even the inner city of Kenosha, they do these crimes, and they get slapped on the wrist. And it’s not the judge’s fault. It’s the way we have the laws set up. We’re afraid of being politically incorrect. We’re afraid of putting these people who hurt people, whether it be financially, physically, kill people, we allow them to continue to go in and out and in and out of the jail. I know jails cost money, but we need to warehouse these people …”

Beth was taken to task at the time by local activists, and the NAACP and was forced under intense pressure to apologize. However, his apologia rang hollow and was just another justification for his racist remarks. “My comments,” Beth opined, “did not necessarily live up to even my own expectations for my office.” In an attempt to justify and mitigate his racist screed, he added, “The interesting part of this entire situation is I have received comments both in support of what I said and also not in support. I appreciate comments on both sides and have taken them to heart.”

In a subsequent press conference, Beth added, “Everything I basically said in the press conference is really the way I feel.

An ecumenical coalition of churches in Kenosha publicly rejected the sheriff’s apology at the time in 2018, asserting that advocating for the construction of “warehouses” to lock up “trash” people for life sentences for minor crimes like shoplifting was outrageous and unacceptable.

In a statement, the coalition stated, “of particular concern to us as faith leaders in Kenosha County are Sheriff Beth’s assertions that there are people ‘not worth saving’ … and that there are segments of the population who should simply ‘go away.’ To the first point, we are united in the affirmation that every life is worth saving and every person, however troubled or felonious, is deserving of dignity.” 

Last Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union called for “the immediate resignation of Beth and Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis, citing what they characterized as a “failed response” to Blake’s shooting and the expanding protests, including the alleged double murder by 17-year-old vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse. There is already compelling cell phone footage showing that sheriff’s deputies gave the 17-year-old soon-to-be double murderer water and encouraged him on, instead of checking his ID to see if the kid, who looked more like sixteen than eighteen, was legit to possess and open-carry a long gun.

According to the press release from the ACLU, Sheriff Beth and his deputies “not only fraternized with the white supremacist counter-protesters on Tuesday but allowed the shooter to leave as people yelled that he was the shooter.”

According to the ACLU, “The sheriff excused this by saying his deputies may not have paid attention to the gunman because there were many distractions” and “in situations that are high stress, you have such an incredible tunnel vision.” 

During the Kenosha Police Department’s initial press conference in response to the seven bullets in the back, close-range shooting of Jacob Black and subsequent vigilante murders committed at protests last Wednesday, Chief Miskinis unabashedly blamed the victims in Tuesday night’s shooting for their own deaths, asserting that the vigilante murders wouldn’t have occurred if the BLM protesters hadn’t been violating curfew.

“The ACLU strongly condemns Sheriff Beth and Police Chief Miskinis’ response to both the attempted murder of Jacob Blake and the protests demanding justice for him. Their actions uphold and defend white supremacy, while demonizing people who were murdered for exercising their first amendment rights and speaking out against police violence,” said Chris Ott, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, in the release. “The only way to rectify these actions is for both Sheriff Beth and Police Chief Daniel Miskinis to immediately tender their resignations.”

Should Beth and Miskinis “refuse to immediately tender their resignation,” the ACLU is calling on Kenosha’s mayor to demand their removal.

Dennis J Bernstein is the executive producer of Flashpoints, syndicated on Pacifica Radio, and is the recipient of a 2015 Pillar Award for his work as a journalist whistleblower. He is most recently the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner
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