Reinoehl “attempted to escape arrest and produced a firearm” before he was killed by law enforcement, Attorney General Barr revealed in a statement released on Friday, confirming initial reports of what happened Thursday night when a fugitive task force swept in to arrest him in Lacey, Washington. The self-professed Antifa member, suspected of killing Patriot Prayer “friend and supporter” Aaron ‘Jay’ Danielson during a riot last Saturday in Portland, had fled across the border from Oregon after local cops secured a warrant for his arrest.
Describing Reinoehl as a “dangerous fugitive, admitted Antifa member, and suspected murderer,” Barr congratulated the officers on “prevent[ing] him from escaping justice,” declaring “the streets of our cities are safer with this violent agitator removed.” Tracking and taking down the alleged killer were, according to the attorney general, “an unmistakable demonstration that the United States will be governed by law, not violent mobs.”
Many on social media were appalled at the tone of Barr’s statement, excoriating the AG for his “vigilantism.”
While Reinoehl had all but confessed to killing Danielson, he was being “hunted by people on the right,” one user pointed out, implying the dead man might have mistaken the herd of (uniformed, heavily armed) law enforcement officers for a right-wing militia.
Others were more preoccupied with how Barr’s statement might put other Antifa members in danger, suggesting the killing was meant to “signal” that acts of “state murder” are justified retribution for “self-defense against fascists.” In that vein, several users brought up the Trump administration’s ongoing “failure” to condemn Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois 17-year-old who killed two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, allegedly in self-defense. Rittenhouse has been charged with first-degree murder.
Even some of those who agreed with Barr’s perception of Reinoehl as a dangerous fugitive worried that his killing would make the Antifa activist into a martyr, opening the door to further violence.
Unlike many on social media, Reinoehl’s own sister April didn’t seem surprised at his death, telling the Daily Mail Thursday night that she’d seen it coming for some time. “I’ve been saying to people for a while, if he doesn’t turn himself in he’s going to get himself killed,” she said.
While April mourned her estranged brother and expressed concern for her niece and nephew, she said she knew Reinoehl was prone to “act[ing] impulsively, letting the worst emotions guide his actions.” She had hoped he would “take responsibility for what happened with dignity,” she said, resigned to the fact that her brother’s killing would just open the door to “more violence.”
Reinoehl’s violent death might not have shocked his sister, but April was “surprised a police officer did it,” having expected “the angry population of people who were out for blood” – meaning Patriot Prayer and aligned right-wing groups – to attempt to avenge Danielson’s death.
They “had a contract out for him,” she claimed. Grateful “it wasn’t vigilante justice that got” her brother, she nevertheless predicted he’d be made into a martyr, since his death at police hands “validat[es]…all the anger” that Reinoehl’s fellow Antifa members have against law enforcement – “whether or not it’s correct or righteous.”
In the now-infamous Vice interview in which Reinoehl seems to confess to shooting Danielson, he ‘rationalizes’ the violent act by claiming a friend (who he felt compelled to describe as “of color”) would have been killed had he not opened fire. He was “confident [he] did not hit anyone innocent,” he said, claiming he hadn’t turned himself in to police because they were in league with right-wing protesters and going to jail would leave his family defenseless.
One matter Reinoehl, his sister, and the social media peanut-gallery appeared to agree upon was the looming presence of what the slain activist described as “a civil war right around the corner.”
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