On Tuesday night, Avengers star Mark Ruffalo joined a socially distant version of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. After exchanging some light pleasantries, the two got down to business, discussing the shooting of Jacob Blake—by a police officer, seven times in the back; the ongoing protests and riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Trump’s divisive rhetoric in the wake of it all.
You see, the Oscar-nominated actor is perhaps the most famous living person from Kenosha—since Orson Welles is no longer with us—and as such, the unrest in the city hit close to home, literally.
“These protests have been predominately peaceful. We don’t hear about that, you know? We only see the guys, like in Kenosha, Wisconsin, they made 170 arrests over those days of protests, and 120 of them were from out of town. And they were provocateurs, and they were trashing a town that they’re not even from. That was what broke my heart, because that’s not what I know about Kenosha, Wisconsin,” said Ruffalo.
Ruffalo, 52, also took issue with the media’s coverage of the Kenosha protests as well as the strange right-wing narrative that formed around 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, a vigilante who traveled across state lines illegally armed with an AR-15 and is accused of fatally shooting two Black Lives Matter protesters and injuring a third. (He’s since been charged with first-degree intentional homicide.)
“That community is also facing generations of racial injustice and inequality. But the news I was seeing coming out of there didn’t feel honest to me,” explained Ruffalo. “It felt salacious, and of course they’re going to go for the worst things. And of course you have the 17-year-old with the AR-15 being called from out of state to come and be a vigilante and basically shoot people. All of this was heartbreaking, and I was honestly, Trevor, I was paralyzed. I didn’t know how to respond to it.”
Since Ruffalo says he couldn’t travel to Kenosha—given that he was sequestered with his family due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—he hosted an Instagram Live conversation with Kenosha BLM organizers.
“I did the Instagram Live to counter this kind of story that was coming out of the Kenosha news at the time, that was coming out of the media, that was coming out of the Trump campaign that Kenosha, Wisconsin, was some kind of hellhole where Black terrorists were terrorizing the community, which is total and utter bullshit, as we all know,” said Ruffalo.
Toward the end of his talk with Noah, the actor urged anyone watching—especially the Bernie-supporting left, like himself—to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election.
“An election really is only a comma on a movement,” said Ruffalo. “So we have to look at: Who are the candidates, and how do they align to what this movement is about? Which candidate is going to bring us closer to racial parity? Which candidate is going to bring us closer to a Green New Deal? Which candidate is going to bring us closer to student debt reform? Which candidate is going to bring us closer to universal healthcare? If you have any sense of long-term movement-building, then you have to say it’s Joe Biden. We’re not going to get that from Trump.”