Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges, Friday, following a trial marred by a judicial system enveloped in systemic racism and the perpetuation of white privilege.
On August 23, 2020, a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back, leaving him partially paralyzed. Two days later, Rittenhouse traveled across state lines, obtained an assault rifle, and shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz — all there to protest Blake’s shooting. “Make no mistake,” a representative of Huber’s family said in a statement, “if Kyle Rittenhouse had been Black, or had been wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, there is no way on God’s green earth he would have been allowed to walk away. More likely he would have been shot dead in the street.”
Rittenhouse argued he shot the men in self-defense, a doctrine with a troubled, and frequently racist, application. The “saddening, infuriating, and utterly unsurprising [verdict] came at the end of a trial in which Judge Bruce Schroeder went out of his way to favor Rittenhouse in ways that would have been inconceivable were the defendant a Black person who had taken a semi-automatic rifle to a protest and killed two people,” the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement.
Rittenhouse celebrated by GOP, contrasted with Tamir Rice
Republicans have made Rittenhouse a cause célèbre, supporting him financially and in the media. Huber’s family is suing Rittenhouse and the Kenosha Police Department and the County Sheriff’s office, for what they describe as those departments’ authorization of the shootings.
“Tamir Rice had a toy gun, shot no one, yet he was murdered,” Malynda Hale, creator of the Black Voices Heard project and host of the #WeNeedToTalk podcast, wrote on Twitter, of the Black 12-year-old boy gunned down by a white Cleveland police officer seven years ago today. “Kyle Rittenhouse had an AR-15, murdered 2 people and is going to go to college. I wonder what Tamir wanted to be and where he would have gone to college.”
(Verdict: The Root, Atlanta Black Star, The Real News, NewsOne, Black Wall Street Times, AP, ABC, New York Times $, TIME, Reuters, Blavity, Al Jazeera, Axios, Wall Street Journal $, BBC; Charges: AP, explainer; Self defense: The Atlantic; Rightwing groups and funding: NPR, Politico; Victims and civil liability: NPR, NBC Chicago, CNN, Yahoo; Commentary: The Grio, Stephanie Willis op-ed, Bangor Daily News, Editorial Board, The Cap Times, Editorial Board, NewsOne, Angela Lang op-ed, Prism Reports, Cat Brooks op-ed)