Is the Kenosha shooting a turning point for the US on race?

Is the Kenosha shooting a turning point for the US on race?

Just twelve weeks after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police galvanized a racial justice movement across the US — and the globe — the city of Kenosha in the US state of Wisconsin is aflame after protesters took to the streets to demand justice for Jacob Blake, a Black man shot in the back this week by a white police officer.

How are current protests playing out — and how has public and political sentiment shifted since demonstrations against police brutality erupted across the nation in late May?


Vigilante violence. While bouts of violence characterized some riots earlier this summer, this week's clashes in Wisconsin swiftly became more sinister in nature when a 17-year old white male — a former member of a youth police cadet program with an intense affinity for guns — opened fire at protesters, killing two people and seriously injuring a third.

He was arrested a day later by local police, but one influential right-wing media superstar's characterization of the shooter as a dutiful citizen who had no choice but to take the law into his own hands is a dangerous justification for... murder.

Professional athletes go deeper. After the Floyd killing, many prominent sportsmen and women spoke out against systemic racism, but this week many athletes with massive followings and multi-million dollar sponsorship deals went further in showing solidarity with the movement for racial justice.

In an unprecedented step, teams from the National Basketball Association refused to take the court in playoff games scheduled for Wednesday night in protest, as did the Women's National Basketball Association. Several Major League Baseball teams quickly followed suit, joining strikes in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Protests of this kind in American baseball — still a largely white-dominated sport with a largely conservative culture — are something new.

Meanwhile, the US Tennis Association — which governs a notably white sport itself — suspended all games Thursday after Naomi Osaka, the world's highest-paid female athlete and a Black woman, said she was pulling out of a tournament in New York (she opted back in the following day).

Whether these gestures can move the needle on awareness or exacerbate polarization is unclear. But the refusal of athletes to play the game — and the potential personal and professional hit they could take as a result — marks a new phase of engagement by some of the country's most influential public figures.

The looming election. One key difference between now and the aftermath of the Floyd killing is the proximity of the US election, which is set to take place on November 3.

With Kenosha as a backdrop, Joe Biden and the Democrats are emphasizing the enduring problems of racial inequality and police brutality in the US. Republicans, on the other hand, have focused on looting and urban chaos, claiming that Democrat-run cities like Atlanta, Minneapolis, New York City, and Kenosha have allowed their streets to descend into lawlessness. Speaking at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence warned starkly that "law and order is on the ballot."

In a worrying sign for Democrats, there are already signs that the Trump campaign's messaging about Democrat-induced unrest might be resonating with at least some voters in the important swing state of Wisconsin, where Blake was shot. Polling also shows that national support for the Black Lives Matter movement might be waning.

If that trend continues, Joe Biden — sponsor of the fateful 1994 Crime Bill — and his running mate, former California Attorney General Kamala Harris, may soon have to make a calculation about whether to front their own "law and order" credentials, even at the cost of alienating progressives or Black voters who might be turned off by those messages.

As the presidential race hits the homestretch in the weeks ahead, the Blake shooting and subsequent protests are setting the parameters for a political clash over racial justice and policing in which voters will be asked to make a (largely false) choice between "racial justice" and "law and order." Who will win?

Emily Ademola lives in an area of Nigeria that has been attacked by Boko Haram militants in the past. Looking for water was very risky, and without access to water, the community – especially children – were at risk of waterborne diseases. Eni, in partnership with FAO, built a water well in Emily's community in 2019.

Watch Emily's first-hand account about how access to water "close to our doorsteps" has improved the quality of life for her community and her family.

There's never a great time to impose higher taxes on funeral services — but doing it in the middle of a raging pandemic is an especially bad move. Yet that was one of a number of measures that the Colombian government proposed last week in a controversial new tax bill that has provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades.

In the days since, the finance minister has resigned, the tax reform has been pulled, and President Iván Duque has called for fresh dialogue with activists, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

But demonstrations, vandalism, and deadly clashes with police have only intensified. Two dozen people are dead, 40 are missing, and the UN has criticized Colombian police for their heavy-handed response.

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While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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Paris-London face-off at sea: France and the UK are at loggerheads in the high seas this week over post-Brexit fishing access in Jersey, an island off the English Channel. Furious at regulations that they say makes it harder to fish in these lucrative waters, dozens of French fishing boats amassed near the Channel Island, threatening to block access to the port. In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deployed two naval vessels — a move critics say was an unnecessary escalation, and an attempt by the PM to flex his muscles and bolster the Tory vote ahead of Thursday's regional election. France, for its part, sent its own naval ship and threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supply, 90 percent of which comes from French underwater cables. Fishing rights was one of the final sticking points of Brexit trade negotiations, an emotive political issue for many Britons who say that they got a subpar deal when the UK joined the European Economic Community in the 1970s. Though an UK-EU Brexit agreement was finally reached in December 2020, it's clear that there are still thorny issues that need to be resolved.

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10: Joshua Wong was sentenced along with other Hong Kong democracy activists to 10 months in prison for participating in a vigil last year marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Wong is currently behind bars for participating in separate pro-democracy protests, and will only start this new sentence after that term concludes in November.

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What's the biggest foreign policy misconception that Americans have about the US's role in the world? According to international relations expert Tom Nichols, too few Americans believe that the US, in fact, has a critical role in the world, and that the things Americans enjoy, from cheap goods to safe streets, are made possible because of American global leadership. "Americans have become so spoiled and inured to the idea that the world is a dangerous place that they don't understand that the seas are navigable because someone makes them that way. They don't understand that peace between the great powers is not simply like the weather, that just happens," Nichols tells Ian Bremmer. Their conversation is featured on an episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television – check local listings.

Watch the episode: Make politics "boring" again: Joe Biden's first 100 Days

The cover story of The Economist declares that Taiwan is "The most dangerous place on Earth," because China might finally be ready to plan an invasion of the island. But are the consequences of such a move worth the many risks to China and its President Xi Jinping? Ian Bremmer breaks out the Red Pen to to explain why a US-China war over Taiwan is unlikely.

We are taking our red pen to a recent article from The Economist. The Economist, you ask, how could I? I love The Economist, I know, I know. But you'd lose respect if I give this piece a pass. In fact, it was the magazine's cover story this week, so I had no choice. The image and headline say it all. Here it is, Taiwan is now "the most dangerous place on earth" as US/China relations continue to sour in the opening months of President Biden's administration.

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Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

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Would China really invade Taiwan?

The Red Pen

India’s COVID crisis hits home

GZERO World Clips
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal