May 27, 2022

Summarizing acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse

On Nov. 19, 2021, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges, following his shooting of three people, resulting in the death of two at an anti-police brutality protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2020. 

Rittenhouse was acquitted of five charges: First-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.

Rittenhouse was also originally charged with possession of a deadly weapon by a person under 18 and failure to comply with an emergency order from state or local government, however both charges were dismissed by the judge

The possession charge was struck down after the defense argued that Rittenhouse did not possess a short barrelled rifle, which would have been illegal, though the law specifically makes an exception for minors engaged in hunting or shooting at a range with adult family members. 

The curfew charge was dismissed as the judge felt the prosecution lacked sufficient evidence. 

These charges came after the events of Aug. 25, 2020 in which Rittenhouse, shot three men: Joseph Rosenbaum, 36; Anthony Huber, 26; and Gaige Grosskreutz, 26. 

Rosenbaum and Huber were killed, while Grosskreutz survived his injuries to later testify at Rittenhouse’s trial. 

The trial centered on one main issue, was Rittenhouse’s shooting of these men justifiably self defense? 

There is still a sharp divide on this issue, with some arguing that Rittenhouse’s crossing of state lines to attend the protests as well as video of Rittenhouse wishing two weeks earlier he had been armed to shoot perceived shoplifters and association with a group of armed conservatives who came to Kenosha to protect property suggest murderous intent. 

Others consider Rittenhouse a hero defending vulnerable business owners from violent rioters. 

Regardless of these views, the jury decided that Rittenhouse had indeed acted in self-defense, in a ruling that has been quite controversial. A poll conducted by the Chimes showed that 83% of responding students disagreed with the verdict. 

Noah Harriman, a second-year student at Capital expressed worry at the verdict.
“Well, now that you can just go to any protest and bring an AR-15 illegally across state lines and say that you’re defending property and kill three people and get away with it—it just set a precedent for other cases that I can go across state lines shoot three people say ‘self defense’ and get away with it. It’s just setting up the wrong…precedent,” Harriman said. 

Mike Lamont, a Capital alumnus from the class of ‘95 offered another perspective. 

“I feel like this person was well intentioned but naive and going to a community that he didn’t grow up there, he didn’t have family there,wasn’t from there, and was trying to help, right? However, if I were to advise a young person that said ‘Hey Mike, should I go and help where there’s civil unrest?’ I would say ‘no.’ I would say you don’t belong there; if you go looking for trouble you will find trouble.”  

One point of contention during the trial was the conduct of presiding Judge Bruce Schroeder. Schroeder, 75, gained notoriety for the way the Rittenhouse trial played out under his watch. He clashed often with the prosecution, leading people to believe that he showed bias for the defense. 

What comes next is uncertain. Rittenhouse was initially offered several chances to work for GOP legislators including Madison Cawthorn, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar and Lauren Boebert. 

Gosar even challenged Gaetz to an arm wrestling contest for the chance to employ Rittenhouse. Though Rittenhouse initially found much praise from conservatives, his endorsement of Black Lives Matter in a Tucker Carlson interview will likely not sit well with his potential employers. 

As of publication, no civil suits have been filed for the deaths of Rosenbaum and Huber. It is uncertain if such suits will even be filed. 

What is clear, is that this case highlights a growing political divide and the tensions it has created, culminating in the violent events of that night in August and possibly more to come.

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