Useful idiots (definition): People who, unwittingly, are propagandists for a cause the goals of which they are not fully aware, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.
Louisville Courier Journal reports that photo-journalist Tyler Gerth, 27, was a strong supporter of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and protests against racism and police brutality.
Night after night, Gerth snapped photos of the #BLM protests in Louisville, Kentucky, and shared the mostly black-and-white pics to Instagram, showing “the heartbreak, occasional triumph and tirelessness that have defined the month-long demonstrations: the marching, the singing, the hugging.” Blah, blah, blah.
On the night of June 27, 2020, Gerth was fatally shot at a #BLM protest in Louisville’s Jefferson Square Park, the unintended victim of a man who got in a dispute at the protest, came back with a gun, and fired indiscriminately, shooting bystander Gerth.
Gerth would have turned 28 on July 3. He had graduated from Trinity High School in 2011 and the University of Kentucky in 2016 with a degree in agricultural economics, according to his family. After working and living in Arkansas, he came back to Louisville, worked for Papa Johns in quality assurance and became serious about photography.
Gerth was a stellar mentor as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana as well, according to agency CEO Jeri Swinton. “He not only believed in racial justice, like his father who is also a Big Brother, he put his passion into action by mentoring,” Swinton wrote in an email.
Tyler’s godfather is Joe Gerth, a Courier Journal columnist.
Tyler’s family said in a statement that they are “devastated that his life was taken was from us far too soon. Tyler was incredibly kind, tender-hearted and generous, holding deep convictions and faith. It was this sense of justice that drove Tyler to be part of the peaceful demonstrations advocating for the destruction of the systemic racism within our society’s systems. This, combined with his passion of photography led to a strong need within him to be there, documenting the movement, capturing and communicating the messages of peace and justice. While we cannot fathom this life without our happy, inquisitive, hardworking, funny, precious Tyler, we pray that his death would be a turning point and catalyst for peace in the city he loved so much. We ask for your prayers and that the Lord would draw close in our sorrow, but we also ask that his death is not just another statistic of senseless violence.”
NBC’s Howard Fineman tweeted that Gerth was “a hero” for being at the park “to stand against racism and to photograph history.”
Meanwhile, Gerth’s killer, Steven Nelson Lopez, 23, is facing charges of murder and first-degree wanton endangerment, Louisville Metro Police officials said Sunday after releasing his arrest citation.
Court records Lopez was one of 17 protesters arrested on June 17, and a Courier Journal photographer captured his arrest that day in a photo. He was charged that morning with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, harassment and possession of drug paraphernalia. His citation noted he was in possession of a handgun “with two full mags of ammo” at the time of the arrest.
Ten days later, on June 27, Lopez returned to the “protest,” where he would shoot useful idiot Tyler Gerth to death.
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