What To Know About the Rittenhouse Verdict

What+To+Know+About+the+Rittenhouse+Verdict

 

After four days of deliberations, the jury in the Rittenhouse case has reached a verdict of not guilty on all charges. The verdict has been met with outrage among many civil rights advocates, with protestors taking to the streets in the hours after the news broke. Yet for the family of Rittenhouse, the verdict was “expected” and believed to be “not an injustice” according to the comments of the family’s spokesperson with CNN

The trial of 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse came as a result of Rittenhouse’s fatal shooting of two victims and wounding one other on the night of August 25, 2020, amidst Black Lives Matter protests and riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Videos and photos just moments after the shooting that night show Rittenhouse with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle among fellow gunmen in what has been called a “vigilante group.” Rittenhouse has claimed self-defense and states that he was there that night to protect local businesses from rioters. Rittenhouse was charged with homicide, attempted homicide, and being a minor in possession of a dangerous weapon as he was 17 at the time, though this charge was dropped by the judge of the case.

The case has brought controversy beyond just the public outrage of the not guilty verdict regarding the way the case was handled and various rulings of the conservative judge. As part of the pre-trial matters of the case, the judge announced that the men killed by Rittenhouse were not allowed to be called “victims,” but were allowed to be called “looters,” “rioters,” and “arsonists.” The judge reasoned that “victims” was too loaded of a term, but that “looters,” “rioters,” and “arsonists” were not, and could be used by the defense. Further public outrage stemmed from the racial makeup of the 12 jury members, which was all white with the exception of one person of color. 

The victims of the fatal shooting include 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum and 26-year-old Anthony Huber, as well as 27-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz, who was wounded. The families of the victims have spoken out against the verdict, with Joseph Rosenbaum’s financée saying, “I feel like in this case, the victims’ lives don’t matter.” The family of Anthony Huber has said, “There is no accountability for the person who murdered our son.”  Protestors who have taken to the street and social media to voice their frustrations have remarked that the verdict of the Rittenhouse trial is a reflection of how America’s justice system favors white supremacy. Colin Kaepernick, former NFL quarterback who began the controversial kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality, tweeted, “We just witnessed a system built on white supremacy validate the terrorist acts of a white supremacist.” Others have remarked that the case highlights how American law enforcement views white boys versus black boys. Comparisons have been drawn between black 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot to death by police for having a toy gun, and white 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who has now been acquitted for fatally shooting two people and wounding one other. The conversation of systemic racism within America’s justice system ignited by the verdict is one with a long-standing history and has been a continuous conversation — one that is not likely to stop anytime soon.