A Rhode Island professor with a history of incendiary comments against conservatives is under fire this week for appearing to suggest that the fatal shooting of a Patriot Prayer supporter during unrest in Portland last month was morally justified.
The comment from Erik Loomis, a history professor at the University of Rhode Island, came in response to a comment on his blog post: “Why Was Michael Reinoehl Killed?”
The post questioned whether police deliberately “murdered” 48-year-old Michael Reinoehl, the man who fatally shot Aaron “Jay” Danielson on Aug. 29, the night Trump supporters clashed with backers of Black Lives Matter in Portland.
“I am extremely anti-conspiracy theory. But it’s not a conspiracy theory at this point in time to wonder if the cops simply murdered him,” Loomis wrote. “The police is shot through with fascists from stem to stern. They were openly working with the fascists in Portland, as they were in Kenosha which led to dead protestors.”
By “fascists,” Loomis is ostensibly referring to Trump supporters and members of Patriot Prayer, a group founded by conservative activist and former Washington Senate candidate Joey Gibson. The group has been portrayed by the mainstream media and the Southern Poverty Law Center as a far-right hate group, though Gibson has denied this characterization.
Last week, law enforcement officers investigating Danielson’s death fatally shot Reinoehl after locating him in Lacey, Wash. Earlier that day, Portland police had obtained a second-degree murder warrant for Reinoehl in connection with Daniel’s death.
“Michael Reinoehl is the guy who killed the fascist in Portland last week,” Loomis wrote on his Sept. 4 blog post. “He admitted it and said he was scared the cops would kill him. Well, now the cops have killed him.”
In the comments section, a reader appeared to challenge Loomis’ defense of Reinoehl, writing: “Erik, he shot and killed a guy.”
Loomis responded: “[Reinoehl] killed a fascist. I see nothing wrong with it, at least from a moral perspective.”
He then compared Reinoehl to John Brown, the radical abolitionists who in the mid-19th century advocated for more violent tactics to eradicate slavery in the United States.