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Facebook takes down page, event connected to Kenosha armed group

Facebook takes down page, event connected to Kenosha armed group

Facebook is investigating activity on its platform after the shooting of three protesters in Kenosha, Wis., a spokesperson for the platform told The Hill on Wednesday.

A group called “Kenosha Guard” and an event promoted by the page called "Armed Citizens to Protect our Lives" have both been taken down.

The Kenosha Guard page was removed for violating the platform's policy against militia organizations.

The page had more than 3,000 members before being taken down, according to The Verge, which first reported on both the page and the event.

Thousands have joined protests in Kenosha since the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in the back seven times on Sunday. Blake's family says he is currently paralyzed from the waist down.

On Tuesday night, two people were shot dead and another was injured during a Black Lives Matter protest.

Illinois police on Wednesday arrested Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, in connection to the Kenosha shooting.

The violent escalation followed calls from militias to “protect” Kenosha from protests, a refrain that has been deployed frequently by armed groups in response to the hundreds of demonstrations against police brutality that have taken place since the police killing of George Floyd.

The Kenosha Guard page explicitly encouraged an armed response.

“Any patriots willing to take up arms and defend our city tonight from the evil thugs?” it said in a post Tuesday, according to The Verge. “No doubt they are currently planning on the next part of the city to burn tonight.”

The Facebook spokesperson told The Hill that the shooting has been designated as a "mass murder" and that the alleged shooter's accounts have been removed from the platform and Instagram.

"At this time, we have not found evidence on Facebook that suggests the shooter followed the Kenosha Guard Page or that he was invited on the Event Page they organized," they said.

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In a statement Wednesday morning, the Kenosha Guard said it did not know whether the shooter of the protesters had any connection to its actions.

“We are unaware if the armed citizen was answering the Kenosha Guard Militia’s call to arms,” they said on their page, according to The Verge. “Just like with the shooting of Jacob Blake, we need all the facts and evidence to come out before we make a judgement."

—Updated at 5:52 p.m.