When the G20 summit came to Toronto 10 years ago, I remember being afraid for my city. I knew there would be protests. I knew there could very well be lots of trouble (other G20 meetings had been the scene of violent protests, why not this one). I remember telling my son Anthony that he should not go to the protests. It was dangerous. I knew that many of the protesters would be peaceful, but there would be a few troublemakers who would cause mayhem. I knew that with so many world leaders in one place, that the police presence would be huge and any bad actions by a few protesters would cause a huge police backlash against all of the protesters. Anthony could be hurt and killed. I wanted to keep him safe. That was what I thought was the most important thing to do as a parent. It was my duty as a parent to keep Anthony out of harms way.
That is why I can't understand the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse's parents last week. Kyle is a 17 year old Antioch, Illinois high school student. Rittenhouse's mother drove him the fifty kilometres across the state line into Kenosha, Wisconsin last week. Kenosha was embroiled in protests about the shooting of a man by police. As always most of the protesters were peaceful, but a few were causing trouble. Rittenhouse's mother allowed him to carry his assault rifle into the area where the protest was happening. Rittenhouse got into a heated shouting match with some of the protesters. Rittenhouse fired his rifle not once but twice and killed two of the protesters. Today Rittenhouse is charged with two counts of murder.
I sit and shake my head. As a parent would I drive my child 50 kilometres across state lines into a known riot zone? Would I allow him to be armed in such a tense situation? Would I knowingly allow him to break the law? (It is illegal for people under the age of 18 to open carry weapons in Wisconsin). The answer is most assuredly no. But here, the mother not only gave permission but drove the get away car. With that decision, two men are dead and her 17 year old might face years in jail.
I do struggle with much of this. Why Wisconsin is an open carry state bothers me? Do I really need an AR 15 when I shop in Co-op? Do I need to demonstrate that I am packing when I go to church? No, no, no. I wonder why we as a society aren't dealing with the underlying issues which have led to this season of protest and violence. I don't agree on cutting the budgets of some agencies and giving more to other agencies. Rather, I think we need to realize that we need to fund more fully social workers, social service agencies, community development agencies, addiction services, police, health care services, and other agencies which help people. We may need to pay more taxes to help the common good. And I think we need to show people that hate is never a good thing. Violence is never a good thing. Once everyone stops pointing fingers at the other in anger, and begins reaching out (although maintaining 2 metres of safe social distancing) in love, these problems will fade away. May the misjudgment of Kyle's parents, in allowing their child to march like a video game soldier of fortune, be a catalyst for love not hate. Blessings.