Was Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial a miscarriage of justice?
In a trial that shocked a nation, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges on November 19th over the shootings of three white men in the aftermath of demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August 2020. Two of the victims were killed. The jury deliberated for more than three days before giving the verdict.
In his trial, prosecutors argued that Kyle Rittenhouse was a “teenage vigilante” who crossed state lines with an AR-15 he wasn’t legally allowed to have. Rittenhouse, who said he had taken it upon himself to “protect” businesses from Black Lives Matter protesters, ultimately shot & killed Joseph Rosenbaum & Anthony Huber. A third man, Gaige Grosskreutz, was injured but survived.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s crimes in August 2020
The protests in Kenosha began after Rusten Sheskey, a white police officer, shot & wounded Jacob Blake, a Black man, on August 23rd, 2020. The shooting came only months after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off protests nationally about racially-charged police brutality.
The city of Kenosha soon witnessed widespread looting, arson, and property destruction in the days after the upsetting police shooting. The shootings by Kyle Rittenhouse, which he argued were done in self-defense, transpired on the third night of protests.
The aftermath of Rittenhouse’s shocking trial
In a video, Kyle Rittenhouse tells someone as he’s apparently driven away from the courthouse, “The jury reached the correct verdict. Self-defense is not illegal. And I believe they came to the correct verdict and I’m glad that everything went well. It’s been a rough journey, but we made it through it. We made it through the hard part.”
Governor Tony Evers, in a statement, called for peace on the streets and said the trial has “reopened wounds that have not yet fully healed.”
A politically-biased judge?
Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal comes after a starkly divisive trial in which Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder was extensively criticized for a series of controversial decisions & comments.
Schroeder was criticized by legal experts for letting Rittenhouse himself pick the names of the final twelve jurors who would decide his fate. At Schroeder’s request, Rittenhouse’s defense team put eighteen slips of paper with the ID numbers of all the jurors, including alternates, into a raffle hopper. The judge praised the jurors, saying he “couldn’t have asked for a better jury.”
At one point during the trial, Schroeder, who barred prosecutors from referring to Rittenhouse’s victims as “victims,” faced scrutiny over his choice of ringtone. When his cellphone began ringing, it began blaring Lee Greenwood’s patriotic anthem “God Bless the U.S.A.”
He quickly silenced his phone, but onlookers soon questioned the judge’s bias. The song, which came out in 1984, became known in recent years as one of ex-President Donald Trump’s entrance tunes at political rallies.
Statements from victim’s families
The family of Anthony Huber, who died at twenty-six years old, said in a statement “There is no accountability for the person who murdered our son.”
“It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street,” the statement said of the verdict.
The statement continued, “We hope that decent people will join us in forcefully rejecting that message and demanding more of our laws, our officials, and our justice system.”
Huber’s girlfriend, Hannah Gittings, said she doesn’t believe that Rittenhouse was solely out to protect businesses the night he fatally shot her boyfriend. “If these people had just done what they said they were going to be doing, standing outside of the property making sure nobody was ruining these buildings and businesses, whatever, that’s cool, but you weren’t,” Gittings shared.
Gittings said she believes that Rittenhouse, who was seventeen at the time of the shootings, got involved in the band of vigilantes patrolling the city.
What do you think about the results from Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial? Was it truly self-defense or aggravated gun violence from a vigilante? What about Judge Schroeder? Let us know all your thoughts in the comments below.