A & E Editor
The verdict of the year-long trial for Kyle Rittenhouse was delivered on Friday, November 19, 2021. Rittenhouse was accused on five criminal accounts all surrounding the killing of two adult white males. The public grappled with the decision while others saw it as a celebration of the second amendment.
The original incident was just shy of a year ago on August 25, 2020, when 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse armed himself with an AR-15 style rifle at a protest in Kenosha, provoked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake. He fatally shot 36 year-old white male Joseph Rosenbaum and 26 year-old white male Anthony Huber. He also shot and injured now 27 year-old Gage Grosskreutz.
Now 18, Rittenhouse was finally brought to court to face judgment. He was acquitted on all five accounts: first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree attempted intentional homicide, and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment.
“A lot of the controversial issues going on in the U.S. in a broad sense were all present in the courtroom for this one trial: racial justice, protesting, the role of the police, the rights of minors, the rights of gun owners, and much more. No matter what the verdict was, I think it was guaranteed to stoke further outrage,” said government and politics teacher Mr. Clow.
Rittenhouse testified that he went to the protest to act as a medic and wanted to help protect private property. He also claimed he “feared for his life” in all three interactions with these men. Prosecutors wrestled with this claim arguing that he brought this upon himself and created these situations. Not only did he choose to bring a deadly weapon into an already dangerous environment, but he continued to stay after he was separated from a friend. On the other hand, supporters see Rittenhouse as a celebratory figure of gun rights as he was brave enough to protect a community from what they deemed lawless riots.
“Today, the American justice system worked as designed, and a young man who has been lambasted, defamed, and threatened by the media and anti-gun Left was declared innocent of all the charges against him,” the executive director of the National Foundation of Gun Rights (NFGR), Dudley Brown, said in a statement following the verdict (as reported by Newsweek).
Looking at the bigger picture, this criminal trial discussed many controversial topics the United States has been facing over the years. Since 2020, Americans have been divided over gun rights and protests.
“Nearly every aspect of the case touches on some of the country’s most contentious fault lines: Second Amendment rights, self-defense, violence at racial justice protests, vigilantism and perceptions of how police and the justice system treat white people and people of color differently,” wrote Becky Sullivan in an NPR article published on November 19th.
Immediately following the decision, there was an outpour of reactions and expressed beliefs all throughout the media. There were posts, drawings, and graphs that all expressed frustration with the verdict of the case and what it reveals about our nation’s values.
The Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office issued a statement: “While we are disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected. We are grateful to the members of the jury for their diligent and thoughtful deliberations. We ask that members of our community continue to express their opinions and feelings about this verdict in a civil and peaceful manner.”
Although Kyle Rittenhouse walked free, it is not completely over yet as there is still a possibility Rittenhouse will be sued for damage in a civil trial. Those who are passionate about this case and its ruling should continue to express their opinions peacefully.