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The town of Kenosha, Wisconsin predictably continues to have profound unrest after police shot 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake seven times in the back on Sunday. The name of the officer who shot Blake has not been publicly disclosed yet, and this is making an already-bad situation even worse. However, it is completely unacceptable for Twitter to amplify this message from Shaun King:
To the Kenosha Police Department,
If you do not name the officer who brutally shot Jacob Blake on Sunday, we will simply begin naming officers from your department who may or may not be him.
Your protection of his identity is unethical.
What's his name?
— Shaun King (@shaunking) August 26, 2020
For some personal context: My wife’s best friend and maid of honor at our wedding lives in Kenosha. One of my best friends, who was a groomsman at our wedding, grew up there. I go to Kenosha at least once a year. I have previously written about the racial divide in Wisconsin and their astounding Black incarceration rates. According to data published in the last decade, Black people consisted of six percent of the state’s general population but 37 percent of the state prison population; in 2013, NPR reported that more than 1 in 8 of the black men in the state were incarcerated. This was the highest rate in America.
It’s nearly impossible for me to conceive of a scenario in which shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back was justifiable.
If Kenosha’s town government and Wisconsin’s state government keep filibustering the naming of the officer, I believe that it *is* the job of the media to report this news. But, for obvious reasons, this isn’t something where there can be even a sliver of doubt.
Therefore, King’s transparent willingness to potentially inaccurately name an officer is completely irresponsible. However, it’s also not surprising. Previously, he falsely accused a man of murdering a seven-year-old Black girl. The man later committed suicide. You’d think this would give him pause for the rest of his life before threatening to potentially get the name of a shooter wrong. But nope.
Last September, prominent Black activist DeRay McKesson wrote a lengthy essay exposing King’s lack of integrity.
“We never aim to replicate the power dynamic of the system we are up against — a system that embraces a devious lack of transparency, willingly sacrifices the vulnerable to protect itself, and replaces truth with convenient lies,” McKesson wrote. “Yet Shaun King has done just that.”
King’s fundraising efforts have had, at best, dubious results and accounting.
“He does not often answer any of the questions or offer any resolution of contradictions raised, but instead, deflects,” wrote McKesson. “What’s more, he often bullies and intimidates those who ask questions at all, turning his ire especially at Black women, attempting to scare inquirers into silence. When asked about the repeated organizations and lack of transparency on funding, he has replied noting that ‘failure is not fraud,’ as if to suggest that questions raised do not warrant serious responses simply because he may have been an ineffective leader. But at a point, those who attempt to lead but consistently demonstrate that they cannot effectively lead should stop.”
The bottom line is that while it’s not surprising for King to cross the line and make threats that could incite further violence, Twitter should not let him do it on their platform. Their rules, which are haphazardly applied, state that “You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so.”
This thread from King should be a violation of Twitter’s written rules. Will they do anything about it?