Rittenhouse Takes: Good, Bad, and Ugly

The reactions to a verdict that were predictable (indeed, predicted) are over the top.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the banalest take on Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal came from President Joe Biden:

 While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken. I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.  I know that we’re not going to heal our country’s wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law.

I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law.  Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy.  The White House and Federal authorities have been in contact with Governor Evers’s office to prepare for any outcome in this case, and I have spoken with the Governor this afternoon and offered support and any assistance needed to ensure public safety.

While I prefer my Presidents not have public takes at all on the guilt or innocence of American citizens—much less be “angry” when an American jury does its civic duty—a call for peacefulness in a tense situation is certainly appropriate.

At the other extreme, the Anti-Defamation League chronicles some particularly ugly rejoicing about the verdict from the fringes of 4Chan, QAnon, and the like. I’ll spare you my customary excerpts and simply repeat that they’re ugly.

The most disappointing takes come from some in the Progressive Caucus in Congress, which I suppose shouldn’t surprise me, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which does.

Reason‘s Robbie Soave points to this tweet from Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.)

PoliticsUSA managing editor Jason Easley points to this from Rep. Jerry Nadler (D, NY) and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee:

This continued a trend that went back to the earliest days of the case being litigated in the press. Megan McArdle points to this from Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D, Mass.) from back in August 2020:

Soave adds,

The accounts of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement made similar statements. These remarks all reek of ignorance: A jury acquitting a white defendant for killing three white men is hardly an example of white supremacy.

It’s more complicated than that, of course. So far as I can tell, there has never been any proof offered that Rittenhouse is affiliated with any white supremacist organization. But showing up at a Black Lives Matter rally in another state, armed with an AR-15, to protect businesses with which one has no connection from “looters and rioters” is apt to raise suspicions.

Further, it’s certainly arguable that a Wisconsin jury would have been less sympathetic to a Black teenager who shot three members of a Stop the Steal rally under similar circumstances. Still, the fact that the shooter and victims were all White is a salient point that seems to have gotten lost in the narrative.

Soave continues,

Perhaps it’s not surprising that activists and Democratic politicians would reflexively cite white supremacy in a trial outcome that disappoints Team Blue. More troubling is the response to the verdict from an organization that should know better: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In a statement reacting to the verdict, ACLU-Wisconsin Interim Executive Director Shaadie Ali lamented the “deep roots of white supremacy” in Kenosha that prevented Rittenhouse from being “held responsible for his actions.”

“Kyle Rittenhouse was a juvenile who traveled across state lines on a vigilante mission, was allowed by police to roam the streets of Kenosha with an assault rifle and ended up shooting three people and killing two,” said Brandon Buskey, director of the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project. “These are the simple, tragic facts. His acquittal comes after an ACLU investigation exposing how Kenosha law enforcement used violence against protesters and drove them toward white militia groups, in ways that escalated tensions and almost certainly led to these shootings.”

In a Twitter thread, the ACLU complained that Rittenhouse was not held accountable for his “conscious decision to travel across state lines and injure one person and take the lives of two people protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake by police.”

Of course, it is not illegal to travel across state lines; the fact that Rittenhouse wandered outside the boundaries of his home and entered a neighboring municipality was irrelevant to the case. The jury did not agree with—and the facts of the case did not support—the claim that his decision to shoot three people was “conscious” in the sense that it was premeditated. He argued that he rationally believed his life was in imminent danger, and the surviving shooting victim provided testimony that supported this argument.

One might have expected that an organization dedicated to the preservation of civil liberties would not so cavalierly take the side of prosecutors against the concept of self-defense. In the past, the ACLU has done terrific work shining a light on prosecutorial misconduct—the tremendous power the state has to stack the deck against defendants. The ACLU purports to believe that all people, even the guilty, deserve due process protections. The organization is evidently outraged by the verdict: Is the ACLU outraged that the prosecutor tried to argue that Rittenhouse exercising his Miranda rights was evidence of his guilt?

Agreed all around.

The full statements from Ali and Brandon Buskey, director of the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, are here. They combine reasonable outrage over events leading up to Rittenhouse’s actions with misplaced outrage at the verdict.

Further, I fully agree with this part of Ali’s assessment:

The events in Kenosha stem from the deep roots of white supremacy in our society’s institutions. They underscore that the police do not protect communities of color in the same way they do white people.

The situation also represents an outrageous failure to protect protesters by the Kenosha Police Department and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office. Months of research and open records requests have uncovered many incidents in which police enabled white militia members to become armed vigilantes in the street due to their failure to control the crowd. They also created an environment where protesters, many of whom were people of color, were not protected and treated as the enemy. At the same time, white militia members were welcomed with open arms. We need a system of public safety that protects the lives of the entire community.

That Black citizens of Kenosha, and too much of America, believe the police are a danger to them is at the heart of the protests and the KPD contributed to that by their actions that night.

Buskey adds,

His acquittal comes after an ACLU investigation exposing how Kenosha law enforcement used violence against protesters and drove them toward white militia groups, in ways that escalated tensions and almost certainly led to these shootings.

This complicity, along with the reason for the protests that Rittenhouse took it upon himself to confront — the police shooting of a Black man outside of a family function — highlights that the violence in Kenosha is not an anomaly, but rather endemic to a system built upon white supremacy.

In Kenosha, we saw the police shoot a Black man in the back — in front of his children. When the community rose up to exercise their First Amendment right to protest, police enabled white supremacist militia members, which helped to spur rank vigilantism. The result of this failure was bloodshed, the loss of lives, and enduring trauma. It is far too easy to overlook the impact that violence in defense of white supremacy has on all of our communities. As we reimagine public safety, we need to create solutions that extend that safety to everyone — including those that have been systematically neglected and preyed upon.”

The problem with the statements is that they’re using the rightful acquittal of Rittenhouse under the applicable laws as a hook to make them. It’s perfectly reasonable for the ACLU to argue that we need to reform the justice system. It’s quite another, indeed, for them to argue that it’s a travesty of justice for Rittenhouse to exercise his legal rights.

Now, it’s certainly possible to take the position that it should have been illegal for Rittenhouse (but then also Gaige Grosskreutz) to carry weapons to a protest or that the self-defense doctrine shouldn’t apply in circumstances the accused helped create. I’m especially amenable to the former. Carrying an AR-15 to a rally certainly conveys an implied threat of violence. But, under Wisconsin law—and contrary to most of the pretrial reporting—he had every legal right to do so.

Perhaps the best take I’ve seen comes from David French, who wrote this earlier in the week:

[Self-defense] claims are not assessed by means of sweeping inquiries into the wisdom of the actions that put the shooter into a dangerous place in a dangerous time. Instead, they produce a narrow inquiry into the events immediately preceding the shooting. The law allows even a foolish man to defend himself, even if his own foolishness put him in harm’s way.

[…]

The narrow nature of the self-defense inquiry is one reason people can escape responsibility for killings that are deeply wrongful in every moral sense. Take, for instance, cases in which bad cops create danger and confusion through incompetence or excessive aggression, and then they respond to the danger or confusion they created by using deadly force.

Examples abound. Police gave confusing and conflicting instructions to Philando Castile before he was shot and killed, and to Daniel Shaver before he was gunned down in a hotel hallway. The killing of Breonna Taylor is another example—police used terrible tactics, but once an occupant of the home fired on them, a grand jury decided, they were legally entitled to fire back.

When Kyle Rittenhouse walked the streets of Kenosha in the midst of urban unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake holding a rifle in the “patrol carry” or “low ready” position, similar to the positions used by soldiers walking in towns and villages in war zones, without any meaningful training, he was engaged in remarkably dangerous and provocative conduct. But that dangerous and provocative conduct did not eliminate his right of self-defense, and that self-defense claim is the key issue of his trial, not the wisdom of his vigilante presence.

I’m more amenable than French to changing the laws, especially with regard to vigilantism and the brandishing of firearms at protests. And I support radical reform of police procedures to all but eliminate no-knock or middle-of-the-night police surges into people’s homes.

We should work to limit the circumstances in which an armed human being fears for their safety and kills in self-defense. Because, once in that situation, most people will use deadly force even if it’s their own damned fault they’re in it.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    We should work to limit the circumstances in which an armed human being fears for their safety and kills in self-defense.

    Some talking head last night observed that this opens the door for more guns at protests and we won’t see anything change until enough disasters like this pile up. We’ve had disaster after disaster pile up with no action. If Sandy Hook and Las Vegas didn’t lead to action, what will?

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  2. wr says:

    As long as we absolutely, positively, definitely force ourselves to look at not one second before Rittenhouse pulled that trigger, then everything he did was acceptable. It’s only if one admits there is a context outside that second that one becomes outraged at the verdict.

    You seem to believe it’s somehow bad that people insist on judging Rittenhouse on the totality of his actions, and not simply what he did in that one second.

    By this reason, the murder of Arbury was also completely justified. After all, there could well have been one second when his killers thought they were in danger. No matter that they had set off on a hunting expedition, chased their prey up and down streets in their trucks, prevented him from leaving and ultimately left him no choice but to try to fight back to survive. In that one tiny second the murderer felt scared, so he was totally right to pull that trigger.

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  3. James Joyner says:

    @wr:

    You seem to believe it’s somehow bad that people insist on judging Rittenhouse on the totality of his actions, and not simply what he did in that one second.

    So, first, whether he acted in self-defense, is, as I quote David French above, “a narrow inquiry into the events immediately preceding the shooting. The law allows even a foolish man to defend himself, even if his own foolishness put him in harm’s way.” We should in fact judge the jury verdict on that basis: they are required to apply the law, not rewrite it ex post facto into something that allows convicting Rittenhouse of murder.

    Second, while we agree that Rittenhouse shouldn’t have been in Wisconsin carrying an AR-15 (as I’ve declared in every post I’ve made on the matter), he ultimately tried to flee the scene when the first assailant chased him. He had every right to defend himself, though, when he was chased down and knocked to the ground. And, while the second two assailants may well have thought they were heroes chasing down an active shooter, he was nonetheless reasonably afraid for his safety given their actions.

    By this reason, the murder of Arbury was also completely justified. After all, there could well have been one second when his killers thought they were in danger. No matter that they had set off on a hunting expedition, chased their prey up and down streets in their trucks, prevented him from leaving and ultimately left him no choice but to try to fight back to survive. In that one tiny second the murderer felt scared, so he was totally right to pull that trigger.

    I actually don’t think that’s right. The situation in that case is reversed: Arbery’s killers were chasing him down. I would be surprised (but, granted, not absolutely shocked) if they’re acquitted.

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  4. Tony W says:

    Rittenhouse’s situation is akin to breaking into the lion exhibit at the zoo, then killing the animals in self defense.

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  5. senyordave says:

    It’s more complicated than that, of course. So far as I can tell, there has never been any proof offered that Rittenhouse is affiliated with any white supremacist organization.
    On January 8th Rittenhouse was in a bar in Mount Pleasant, WI. Some Proud Boys showed up. Here is an eyewitness account:
    “Within a few minutes of entering the bar, the defendant was loudly serenaded by five of the adult males in his group with the song ‘Proud of Your Boy,’ which is an obscure song written for the 1992 Disney film ‘Aladdin,'” the motion reads. “The violent white supremacist group called the ‘Proud Boys’ was named after this song, which is sung by its members as an anthem and for self-identification. The defendant then remained with these ‘Proud Boys’ for the entire time he was in the bar.”
    There are accompanying pictures (Rittenhouse is wearing a “free as fuck’ t-shirt). Here is the link:
    https://www.wpr.org/prosecutors-ask-court-ban-kyle-rittenhouse-going-bars-associating-proud-boys
    From the story: Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger filed a motion Jan. 13 with Kenosha County Circuit Court to prohibit Rittenhouse from consuming alcohol, visiting any establishment that serves alcohol, making public displays of “white power” or “white supremacy,” or having any contact with known militia members, including the Proud Boys.
    More: Rittenhouse and other adult males flashed the “OK” sign in photos, which prosecutors say has been co-opted as a sign of white power by known white supremacy groups.
    I think its fair to say that he has had some close contact with a white supremacist organization.

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  6. M. Bouffant says:

    “when an American jury does its civic duty”

    Did they?

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  7. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “We should in fact judge the jury verdict on that basis: they are required to apply the law, not rewrite it ex post facto into something that allows convicting Rittenhouse of murder.”

    You’ve read more takes than I have, but I certainly haven’t seen anyone blaming the jury for the verdict so much as the system that has created laws that empower every moron to walk around armed to the teeth and then put himself in danger and then kill and scream self-defense.

    The verdict itself is not the outrage, just as Rittenhouse’s actions in that one second are not the outrage.

    Dr. John Emerson was acting responsibly and according to the law when he went to court to fight against Dred Scott’s suit for freedom. The outrage in the decision was not about Emerson’s actions, but against a law and a legal system that allowed it.

    That’s the situation here.

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  8. James Joyner says:

    @Tony W:

    Rittenhouse’s situation is akin to breaking into the lion exhibit at the zoo, then killing the animals in self defense.

    The men who chased Rittenhouse down are human beings capable of judgment, not animals acting on instinct.

    @senyordave: That Proud Boys have adopted him as a hero doesn’t necessarily indicate anything about him. The “OK” sign, in the right context, might.

    @wr:

    I certainly haven’t seen anyone blaming the jury for the verdict so much as the system that has created laws that empower every moron to walk around armed to the teeth and then put himself in danger and then kill and scream self-defense.

    But being outraged at the result is tantamount to blaming the jury. They did what they were supposed to do: follow the law. The law and justice are only occasionally the same.

    The verdict itself is not the outrage, just as Rittenhouse’s actions in that one second are not the outrage.

    Yes. That’s my take as well.

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  9. SKI says:

    “No Justice, No Peace” is not a threat but instead a statement of reality.

    We will not have peace, which is not merely the absence of violence, so long as we have a fundamentally unjust system of justice.

    Rittenhouse’s victims are blamed for attacking him thereby allowing him the right of self-defense.

    That same theory of justifying violence through claiming self-defense from a perception of threat would seem to bless their attack on him. He showed up to hunt. They had the “right” to defend themselves, no?

    And contrast the treatment of Rittenhouse with the numerous women who killed their abusers and rapists and ended up in prison.

    This verdict may have been legal but it is profoundly unjust. Self-defense should be limited to situations where the defendant didn’t go looking for trouble. Armed men show up at your home? Absolutely. Get jumped in a bar when you were just watching the game? Yup. Go out spoiling for a fight, then panic when you get one? Not ok.

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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    via Michael Harriot:

    A belief may be reasonable even though mistaken,” the jury instructions read. “In determining whether the defendant’s beliefs were reasonable, the standard is what a person of ordinate intelligence and prudence would have believed in the defendant’s position.”

    What was it the court said about FOX News? Oh yeah, “No rational person would believe anything F*cker Carlson said.” or something to that extent.

    As far as “what a person of ordinate intelligence and prudence would have believed” I’m pretty sure they would have stayed the F home

    The state of American law and jurisprudence is a joke, a sad sick joke.

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  11. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “But being outraged at the result is tantamount to blaming the jury.”

    I honestly don’t agree at all. I can partially blame the judge, who did everything to help acquit short of hoisting Rittenhouse on his knee and singing “My son, Bill.”

    But with the law and the charges being what they were, I don’t see that the jury had any choice, short of deliberately flouting the law and delivering a verdict that would have been set aside right away, and deservedly so.

    If Arberry’s killers get off, that will be a time to blame the jury, since it’s clear that the killers’ claim of self-defense is patently phony. But they had to let Rittenhouse go because the laws are written so that the kinds of people who vote for the legislators who write these laws are allowed to kill the kinds of people who vote for their opponents.

    Again, that’s where the outrage is.

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  12. Modulo Myself says:

    The whole self-defense claim makes sense legally, but in this context it is akin to saying a soldier falling back to a better position can not be attacked. We’re taking normal existence and grafting into a different situation. In war, basically, it’s a crime to shoot someone who has surrendered, but it’s not a crime to shoot somebody who is falling back. There are reasons for that. And the reasons are the same regarding Kyle Rittenhouse. A guy who wanders into a situation with a gun and shoots somebody is not fleeing the scene or surrendering. He’s falling back to take a better position.

    All of this what happens when you take endless propaganda about life being war and hand it to weakest, dumbest people–gun nuts–and they, because they are morons, make it their ideology and act it out in real life, while being cheered on by the gun industry and Republicans.

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  13. CSK says:

    @wr:
    The prosecution in the Arbery case is in a much stronger position than in the Rittenhouse case. So strong that the lawyer for one of the defendants, William “Roddy” Bryant, asked for a plea deal. The prosecution rejected the request.

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    Law is an attempt by humans to create a system that will deliver justice, but law and justice are not the same thing. Justice is a hard to define abstraction, like beauty or capital T truth. We make efforts to approach the ideal, but we will never fully achieve it.

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  15. Modulo Myself says:

    And regarding whether or not Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, it’s all the same thing. It’s like someone who is keeping a running tally of murders in Chicago. It ain’t a mystery. Gun nuts are white supremacists, and the tolerance afforded to them by centrists and libertarians is the same as the tolerance have for eugenists like Andrew Sullivan or that Slate Star Codex dweeb. There’s a whole death spiral where conservatives just can’t say categorically a guy is crazy or violent or a racist and then a decade later you have Trump and gun psychos in Congress and this idiot kid being made a hero.

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  16. gVOR08 says:

    Still, the fact that the shooter and victims were all White is a salient point that seems to have gotten lost in the narrative.

    Indeed. And here’s another take for you, from Paul Campos at LGM.

    Yesterday there was plenty of the typical left-liberal handwringing about isn’t a shame that Wisconsin has such a broad self-defense law, and that a 17-year-old can so easily get his hands on such a destructive weapon, and so forth. The problems, it seems, are the formal legal rules and the ubiquity of guns.

    This is just wrong.

    The problem is the Republican party, which has gone fascist. That’s what turned this murderous little son of a bitch — a precise technical term in this context — into a national hero overnight. And make no mistake: he is now a hero to the entire American right wing, whose institutional representative is the Republican party, which has gone fascist.

    Campos quotes a tweet from Anthony Sabatini (R FL-2) outpandering Gaetz and others by proposing a Kyle Rittenhouse Day Federal holiday. As James noted, the victims were white. They’ve moved on from celebrating killing Black people to celebrating killing libs.

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  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    But being outraged at the result is tantamount to blaming the jury. They did what they were supposed to do: follow the law. The law and justice are only occasionally the same.

    Tune in next week, when Dr. Joyner discovers the existence of the post-conventional levels of moral development.

    In the mean time, jury rulings are not delivered “ex cathedra”. I’m not required to subordinate my moral judgements to theirs and I DO blame the jury.

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  18. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner:
    David French writes:

    The narrow nature of the self-defense inquiry is one reason people can escape responsibility for killings that are deeply wrongful in every moral sense.

    James, you wrote:

    But being outraged at the result is tantamount to blaming the jury… The law and justice are only occasionally the same.

    My outrage is that something “deeply wrongful in every moral sense” occurred.

    That the law and justice are only occasionally the same is outrageous even if it’s true.

    That I’m expressing my outrage in conjunction with the Rittenhouse verdict (using it as a hook as you feel the ACLU is doing) is because this whole trial was just the latest example (in a long, long, long line of examples) of the truth that the law and justice are not the same.

    The jury has nothing to do with it.

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  19. Jon says:

    @gVOR08: Yup, and he goes on to point out

    The problem is not our laws, whether about gun ownership or self-defense. We could have exactly the same laws — many far more civilized countries have very similar laws to ours in this respect — and still live in a decent society, but we don’t, because the Republican party has gone fascist.

    The issue is our culture, not our laws.

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  20. charon says:

    There has been a lot of erroneous reporting about this that has stuck in peoples’ minds and colored their perceptions.

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/07/05/kyle-rittenhouse-american-vigilante

    Above link from July 5 issue well worth a read, lots of good background info on the kid.

    Some points:

    1) His home in IL is 1 mile from the state border, Kenosha is nearby.

    2) He has a best friend, slightly older, who is like a big brother to him. He leaves the gun at the friend’s house in Kenosha ( keeps Mom from knowing about it).

    3) He drove himself to the demonstration, reports that his mom drove him are bogus but I see a lot of people still believe that.

    etc., etc.

    In any case, the prosecutors put on a real clown show complete with bad choices and the judge acted pretty much consistant with his other murder trials – for example, he never allows victims to be called victims.

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  21. Jon says:

    @charon:

    he never allows victims to be called victims

    I saw somebody point out that referring to the people he shot as ‘victims’ implies guilt in the first place, which is what the trial is supposed to determine. That makes sense, as far as it goes. The ‘you can call them arsonists or looters’ follow-up to that, however, seems way off, as that too implies guilt which has not been determined.

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  22. steve says:

    ” it should have been illegal for Rittenhouse (but then also Gaige Grosskreutz) to carry weapons to a protest or that the self-defense doctrine shouldn’t apply in circumstances the accused helped create. ”

    I think this is key. Our laws as written, and it has gotten worse with stand your ground laws, mean that if you have a gun and you start an altercation or cause one with someone, if you start to lose you can just shoot and kill them, and its legal. The jury finding was correct given our current laws, but they need changed.

    Steve

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  23. Andy says:

    I would again bring up the point that the prosecution overcharged. To anyone who has paid attention to the actual facts of the case, it was clear from the beginning that those charges wouldn’t stick. If this verdict comes as a surprise, then one probably should reevaluate one’s sources of information.

    So those who want to point blame for not convicting Rittenhouse of anything, ought to point in that direction, and also at the media for misreporting and mischaracterizing the facts of this situation which misled people into believing that convicting Rittenhouse was an open-and-shut case when the actual facts clearly showed it wasn’t.

    But as I noted yesterday, it takes two to tango. And one of the mischaracterizations that are floating around is that the guys Rittenhouse shot were merely peaceful protesters who were merely out supporting black lives is simply wrong and Rittenhouse came along and murdered them.

    Let’s look at Rosenbaum in particular. This is a guy who spent most of his adult life in prison for anally raping and molesting five children. At the time he was killed, he was out on bond for charges of domestic abuse against his girlfriend and he also had a restraining order from that.

    Now, normally I hate and have no sympathy for anyone who deliberately harms children, especially sexually, as well as domestic abusers. I’m philosophically against the death penalty and oppose it as a matter of principle, but if I were ever to make an exception, it would be for child rapists. They do deserve a bullet in the head.

    But in this case, I think Rosenbaum has my empathy more than the other participants in this fiasco. Why?

    Well, the day he was killed, Rosenbaum was released from the hospital following a suicide attempt. It was his second attempt and hospitalization for suicide in two weeks.

    He had bipolar disorder and was reportedly not on his meds. The hospital just sent him on his way.

    He then visited his girlfriend which violated his restraining order. She turned him away because she didn’t want him to get arrested again.

    He was homeless. He was mentally ill. He didn’t have his meds. He was very recently suicidal. So he did the worst thing possible and decided to go to where rioting was taking place. He set things on fire, he lunged at people, he was very aggressive. On multiple occasions, he yelled, “Shoot me” and “shoot me N*gga”. There was testimony at the trial he made threats to kill people.

    Just consider for a minute the context of his behavior and his personal situation and recent history. Following all that happened, that is not the behavior of someone in a mentally healthy place. That is not the kind of environment where a mentally ill person off his meds who just came off of suicide watch ought to be.

    The videos show he chased Rittenhouse into a corner. Why chase someone with a gun? Why yell at people “shoot me?”

    I can’t help but wonder if Rosenbaum went there for self-destructive reasons. Men, in particular, can be prone to acting in self-destructive ways when stressed and feeling helpless. And that self-destructive mentality often comes with violence.

    So we can probably note, once again, the problems in our country when it comes to dealing with people who have mental illness. I can’t help but think of how things would have been different if he had received more help, had people he could turn to for help, or had stayed in the hospital one more day.

    Finally, if you want another place to point your finger, consider the police and state and local government. If the government allows the conditions where one group of people feel free to commit arson and vandalism in the name of protesting, then it is inevitable that other groups of people will self-organize to defend property. And we see this happen in every riot and unrest from Korean shopkeepers defending their stores in LA with guns in 1992 to the people in Kenosha who were defending car dealerships and other businesses. This is not protesting and counter-protesting. This is the normal effect of lawlessness created by the government’s inability or unwillingness to maintain order.

    Without those conditions, a half-baked man-child and violent mentally ill adult would never have met in those wrong and dangerous circumstances. Their decisions to go an area of violence and domestic unrest set the stage for a confrontation and what followed. They would not have been there if the lawful government authorities had done what they are supposed to do.

    And this illustrates just how monumentally stupid and counterproductive the entire idea of “defund the police” actually is. Because in the absence of police or other legitimate authority, what you get instead are vigilantes and provocateurs who seek to stir up trouble. It’s the reason why the vast majority of black people want more policing and not less.

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  24. gVOR08 says:

    @steve: @Jon: points out that other countries have similar laws with less violence. Our absurd gun culture is a big factor.
    But yes, our laws are faulty. Elsewhere people have pointed out that Grosskreutz problem is he lowered his gun. Had he shot Rittenhouse dead would he not have been justified under these same laws?

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  25. wr says:

    @Andy: “If this verdict comes as a surprise, then one probably should reevaluate one’s sources of information.”

    I haven’t come across one single person expressing surprise at the verdict. Shock, horror and outrage, sure — but everyone knew this is what was going to happen. That’s kind of part of the problem here.

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  26. JKB says:

    But showing up at a Black Lives Matter rally in another state, armed with an AR-15, to protect businesses with which one has no connection from “looters and rioters” is apt to raise suspicions.

    Let’s see:

    Showed up on the 2nd or 3rd night of arson, looting and wanton property damage in the wake of a Black Lives rally. In a city that is the closets city to where he lives in the neighboring state where he worked as a life guard, his father and other family members live and where he had many friends. One of the friends held his legally owned rifle in Wisconsin where he wouldn’t run afoul of Illinois gun laws. And he, and others, chose participate in graffiti cleanup and to offer a protective presence to a business in that city, that had already suffered severe losses and would be devastated if they lost their repair facilities with a lot of very expensive tools and supplies.

    Now, perhaps his decision to leave the facility to travel to a second location alone was unwise. Perhaps his offering medical first aid to anyone needing it was wrong. Perhaps his putting out arsonists fires was ill-advised. But he was as lawfully in Kenosha as anyone there in the aftermath of the rally, perhaps more since he was not committing crimes. When confronted by Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse made a determined attempt to leave the area and get away from Rosenbaum. The Ziminsky negligent gunshot, which was a criminal act, and dangerous being into the air, caused Rittenhouse to look back, which caused him to fall and permitted Rosenbaum to get close enough to attempt to take his firearm.

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  27. dazedandconfused says:

    I’d like to see how well David French’s analysis, however technically correct it may be, works out in a scenario of a black man wading into the Charlottesville neo-Nazi crowd sporting an AR15. He may be correct on the resulting murder raps but there can still be reckless endangerment and there are laws against that. He gives the impression juries are forced to ignore all aspects prior to a certain point but it depends on the charge they are considering.

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  28. James Joyner says:

    @dazedandconfused: I don’t know the ins and outs of Virginia gun and self-defense laws to make the comparison. But French’s point is that the totality of circumstances don’t matter in a self-defense claim. And I’m not sure they would have worked to Rittenhouse’s detriment, regardless.

    I’ve been arguing since I started commenting on this case that the charges were absurd. Reckless endangerment seemed a lot more fruitful an avenue.

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  29. Gustopher says:

    Further, it’s certainly arguable that a Wisconsin jury would have been less sympathetic to a Black teenager who shot three members of a Stop the Steal rally under similar circumstances. Still, the fact that the shooter and victims were all White is a salient point that seems to have gotten lost in the narrative.

    You’re missing another salient point: a White shooter shot a bunch of n-clang-lovers.

    You might not see it that way, but a lot of other people do — people who are holding up Rittenhouse as a hero.

    Some of those people are the Stormfront types, others are the ones who say they don’t have a racist bone in their bodies (it’s all cartilage and soft tissue) but make a distinction between good Black people and n-clangs.

    But there are a lot of those people.

    That reminds me, I should check on my brothers…

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  30. Gustopher says:

    Hadley has this right:

    This heartbreaking verdict is a miscarriage of justice and sets a dangerous precedent which justifies federal review by DOJ. Justice cannot tolerate armed persons crossing state lines looking for trouble while people engage in First Amendment-protected protest. https://t.co/Uh95Uc1Ddo

    — Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) November 19, 2021

    It’s a legal miscarriage of justice, but a miscarriage of justice nonetheless.

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  31. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher:

    You’re missing another salient point: a White shooter shot a bunch of n-clang-lovers. You might not see it that way, but a lot of other people do — people who are holding up Rittenhouse as a hero.

    That’s a strong point and one that hadn’t occurred to me. There’s tell, perhaps apocryphal, that white supreacists considered OJ Simpson a hero because he killed a Jew and a n-clang-lover.

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  32. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @gVOR08: When the wrong people start getting shot. Gun nuts know the law. If this people Rittenhouse killed and maimed knew the law, it would have been clear the path of least risk…was to kill him. Chasing him to fight left 1 dead and 1 maimed with no recourse.

    The law does not incentivize deescalation nor physical altercation. It incentivizes “self defense” with subjective fear as justification. So, if you decide to go out and protest, or even be a jerk and riot. It’s probably in your best interest to be armed and remember: Far better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6

    I’m sure the other two kids’ mothers would have loved to switch places with Rittenhouses mom. And they could have, the one who shoots first is the self defense. And whose to say, subjectively, that someone else’s fear, for them, is unreasonable.

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  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @M. Bouffant: Yes, the jury did do it’s duty. Moreover, the prosecutor did his duty to his community by charging Rittenhouse with crimes that he had no possibility whatsoever of convicting him of. This is what white supremacy looks like in its native habitat. But it may be time to move on; there’s another case happening in which to disreputable crackers who have been charged with appropriate crimes may well become beneficiaries of miscarriage of justice just as Rittenhouse was when he was absurdly overcharged. I hope it doesn’t happen, but jury nullification is a tradition in the South and the victim was black, suspicious (not from the neighborhood), running, and had stolen water from a building site hose. I’m not optimistic; the jury has a lot of outs.

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  34. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    You’re missing another salient point: a White shooter shot a bunch of n-clang-lovers.

    You might not see it that way, but a lot of other people do — people who are holding up Rittenhouse as a hero.

    And in the same way, a lot of people are holding up Rittenhouse as a pure “white supremacist” villain for the same thing. The problem is neither of those perceptions is accurate.

    This is why focusing on facts instead of perceptions is important and why jumping to assumptions based on skin color and what “side” someone is on almost always leads one astray.

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  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: If you wish to blame the jury, by all means feel free to. I’m not so compelled; the jury was just a tool here. The saying is that the DA can get an indictment on a ham sandwich if he chooses to. In this case, the DA, representing a larger violent and basically insurrectionist political bloc that may hold white supremacist beliefs as well*, chose not to convict after indicting the equivalent of a ham sandwich on absurd charges.

    *A hat tip to the “he isn’t racist; his victims were white” dodge.

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  36. Dude Kembro says:

    The outcome of this sordid affair is dishonest and incoherent (and amoral). So, naturally, attempts to rationalize that outcome and villainize its critics will be dishonest and incoherent.

    It cannot both be true a) that police and the injustice system would not have allowed a black or Muslim teen to get away with menacing and killing folks who protested for a conservative cause célèbre, and b) that it’s inappropriate for Cori Bush and others to highlight the white supremacy that shielded Rittenhouse from the same consequences said black or Muslim teen would have faced. That’s incoherent. And dishonest, because Rittenhouse obviously and incontrovertibly did benefit from white supremacy.

    It’s dishonest to claim he has no white supremacist affiliation, when he is affiliated with the Proud Boys and is pictured happily celebrating his actions with the white supremacist three-fingered “OKKK.”

    Dishonest to memory-hole the fact he killed Black Lives Matter protestors, not just “white men” with no context.

    Dishonest and desperate to insist criticisms of systemic white supremacy in the justice system are diret attacks on one jury and its verdict.

    Dishonest to claim those making said criticisms are “surprised.” We were surprised that Derek Chauvin was convicted; when Chauvin’s conviction is overturned and he joins Rittenhouse on the violent radical right extremist hero tour, we will not be surprised. At all.

    I could go on as examples abound, but I need not. We can play semantics, split differences, deflect to media errors, and narrowly parse if it helps us feel better, but bottom line:

    If it were Omar Abdulhouse who was on video saying he wanted to “take his f—g AR” and go kill, then did so, he’d have been gun downed that night or convicted yesterday. No one would be claiming he had “every right” to self-defense, instead they’d proclaim his victims martyrs for sacrificing their lives to confront a terrorist.

    And all you’d have done is changed the race of the terrorist. Black/brown folk, liberals, and others outraged about Rittenhouse’s exoneration know what that’s called even if some status quo politicos prefer to play dumb.

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  37. dazedandconfused says:

    @James Joyner:

    Yes, I’ve thought the same. Reckless endangerment was the most winnable case and it seems to me, from a limited review of the trial, the prosecution considered that a minor issue and placed most of their chips on getting a murder conviction. Within the narrow area of homicide/self defense David French is correct but reckless endangerment was on the menu.

    I dislike it because it reinforces the notion all one needs to pop a cap is a threat. Not everyone is going to get a high-priced defense team and an inept prosecutor.

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  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Further, it’s certainly arguable that a Wisconsin jury would have been less sympathetic to a Black teenager who shot three members of a Stop the Steal rally under similar circumstances.

    Sure, hypothetically in some parallel universe. Can anyone show me a case where a black teenager was 1) ridiculously overcharged and 2) acquitted in this one? Or even where said teenager was arrested rather than “shot resisting arrest” at the scene?

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  39. Andy says:
  40. Dude Kembro says:

    @Andy:

    And in the same way, a lot of people are holding up Rittenhouse as a pure “white supremacist” villain for the same thing. The problem is neither of those perceptions is accurate.

    Rittenhouse is a pure white supremacist villain. He menaced and killed Black Lives Matter protesters and later celebrated his killings by appearing with the white supremacist Proud Boys, where he was photographed smiling in a “Free As F–k” shirt, flashing a known white supremacist hand gesture. Rittenhouse is already scheduled to appear on Tucker Carlson’s Great Replacement White Supremacy Power Hour to celebrate getting away with it all.

    Like…what’s the confusion about? Rittenhouse is not confused about his beliefs, and neither are white supremacist groups. Why are y’all so slow on the uptake?

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  41. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @James Joyner: This is the flaw of in much of your analysis Dr Joyner. You really don’t understand the mentality and psyche of the primary actors in the our current cultural ecosystem.

    I used to say it more often here but stopped because Jim Brown is only the resident angry negro here and who listens to that guy? Being an institutionalist in these times is exactly the right play to get the American you don’t want. The American Institutions of Justice are, to invoke Scripture, Whitewashed Tombs (Pun Intended).

    Now is the time for visionaries not status quo. The status quo is what got us here and will bring this country to factional violence. One faction already thinks America is too small to coexist with other factions. They’re only waiting on the political and legal cover to exercise 2nd Amendment solutions.

    Now that I live amongst these people in Desantistan… I know they hate people like you too. Rich, Entitled, Educated, Experts. They just hate liberals a bit more. They’ve figured out how to game systems to wield institutions against their enemies. And will continue to do so as long as the conservative intelligentsia keep saying…well we followed the process.

    I’m not saying to be a purple-haired hippie. I am saying, if you do desire change….amplifying process over outcome will not move the ball for a better America. This country is a powder keg one trigger away from street combat.

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  42. senyordave says:

    Tucker Carlson Has Been Filming A ‘Documentary’ With Kyle Rittenhouse
    Between giving access to Tucker Carlson (whose entire show these days is pretty much based on white supremacy, and spending time with the Proud Boys, for a kid who supposedly isn’t a white supremacist, Kyle Rittenhouse certainly has no problem with hanging out with white supremacists

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  43. James Joyner says:

    @Dude Kembro: @senyordave: I think some of the evidence is circumstantial. But, again, showing up at a BLM protest with an AR-15 certainly makes me inclined to bet in that direction.

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  44. gVOR08 says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Not everyone is going to get a high-priced defense team and an inept prosecutor.

    True. And there are several teams of conservative lawyers eager to make a buck off donors eager to support any RW Rittenhouse copycats.

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  45. charon says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Now that I live amongst these people in Desantistan… I know they hate people like you too. Rich, Entitled, Educated, Experts. They just hate liberals a bit more. They’ve figured out how to game systems to wield institutions against their enemies. And will continue to do so as long as the conservative intelligentsia keep saying…well we followed the process.

    I’m not saying to be a purple-haired hippie. I am saying, if you do desire change….amplifying process over outcome will not move the ball for a better America. This country is a powder keg one trigger away from street combat.

    I just came across this (via Yastreblyansky):

    https://everytownresearch.org/report/armed-assembly-guns-demonstrations-and-political-violence-in-america/

    Excerpts:

    This collaboration between the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund (Everytown) presents quantitative research on demonstrations in the United States during the 18-month period from January 2020 through June 2021, documenting 560 events where demonstrators, counter-demonstrators, or other individuals or groups were present and carried or brandished firearms (see inset definition).

    While most demonstrations in the country have remained peaceful, analysis of the data reveal clear patterns and characteristics that raise the risk of violent or destructive activity during public gatherings,4 including easy access to firearms. Armed demonstrations comprise nearly 10% of all violent or destructive demonstrations in the United States, and are violent or destructive six times more often than unarmed demonstrations. Contrary to claims that the presence of guns in public spaces makes people safer, demonstrations involving at least one armed individual tend to be violent or destructive 16% of the time.

    The analysis finds that the presence of armed groups and individuals at a demonstration strongly correlates with an increase in violent or destructive behavior during public gatherings: armed demonstrations are nearly six times as likely to turn violent or destructive compared to unarmed demonstrations. In addition, the majority of armed demonstrations have been driven by far-right mobilization and reactions to left-wing activism, such as opposition to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, support for former President Donald Trump, opposition to gun regulations, and opposition to pandemic-related public health restrictions. As one example, nearly 84% of armed demonstrations associated with the BLM movement included armed groups or individuals opposing pro-BLM demonstrators. At least 18% of all armed demonstrations have occurred on the grounds of government facilities, with more than 100 reported at legislative buildings and vote counting centers across 25 states and Washington, DC. Militia groups and militant social movements, like the Proud Boys and Three Percenters, are active in over 54% of all armed demonstrations. Further, demonstrations in states that permit the open carry of firearms were more than five times as likely to have an armed presence at demonstrations.

    By the end of May, following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the country witnessed a surge of demonstrations for racial justice. Armed counter-demonstrators and others openly brandishing guns attended many of these events, resulting in the largest spike in demonstrations where firearms were present (see graph above). The three-month period after George Floyd was killed accounts for more than half of the total number of armed demonstrations recorded across the 18-month reporting period. Nearly 84% of the armed demonstrations associated with the BLM movement included armed groups or individuals that were present to oppose pro-BLM demonstrators.

    Between January 2020 and June 2021, demonstrations in open carry states — that is, states that permit the open carry of firearms — were over five times more likely to have an armed presence. Put another way, roughly one out of every 231 demonstrations in states that prohibit open carry involved individuals carrying guns. That figure is one out of every 43 demonstrations in open carry states. The data make clear that demonstrators in these states avail themselves of laws that enable them to openly carry firearms, adding more deadly weapons to already contentious situations.

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  46. charon says:

    @charon:

    More from the link:

    The Boogaloo Boys and their affiliates are active in the largest number of armed demonstrations — over a tenth of all armed demonstrations. While the Boogaloo movement is largely dispersed and lacks organizational structure, the movement’s sole ideological goal is to accelerate the US towards open combat and civil war, which they view to be an inevitability.31 The Boogaloo movement is inextricably linked with gun culture, and many of the elements that animated the boom in anti-government extremism in the past three decades have also animated the Boogaloo movement, including opposition to new gun laws. Boogaloo adherents online routinely discuss right-wing extremist content and post memes glorifying gun violence,32 including specifically about the Kenosha shootings.33 While some Boogaloo Boys are explicitly right-wing, others have attempted to infiltrate and use BLM demonstrations as a way to accelerate the political situation towards mass violence — which is why Boogaloo adherents have shown up armed both to support and oppose BLM demonstrations.

    The Three Percenters movement is, similar to the Boogaloo movement, more of a brand of militant movements than a cohesive national organization. There are a multitude of III% actors, including national organizations, coalitions, local groups, and other affinity organizations. The movement’s core ideological view is the ahistorical notion that only 3% of American colonists took up arms against the British, indicating their accepted position that a small number of activists can affect large amounts of change through force of arms. The III% movement has a history of violence, often picking unarmed or otherwise undefended targets (e.g. unarmed counter-demonstrators,35 refugee communities,36 Muslim organizations,37 etc.).

    The Oath Keepers stem from a similar sociopolitical origin as the III% movement, as they were also formed in direct response to Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 presidential election. They derive their membership from former and current police officers and military, those they deem to have ‘taken the oath’ to defend the Constitution. Conspiracy theories around forced civilian disarmament are key to the Oath Keepers’ worldview. In fact, the first of the 10 orders each member agrees to disobey is “any order to disarm the American people.”38 Overall, approximately a quarter of all demonstrations — armed or unarmed — involving the Oath Keepers have turned violent or destructive.

    The Proud Boys have been present at over 40 armed demonstrations. This group was founded in large part to take pro-Trump momentum from the 2016 election — in particular from the online alt-right — and channel it into street violence in defense of right-wing goals and ideals. The group was highly involved in the storming of the US Capitol and has been increasingly armed with long guns, despite their historical preference for crude weapons and chemical agents.40 Overall, nearly a quarter of all demonstrations — armed or unarmed — involving the Proud Boys have turned violent or destructive.41
    Importantly, all of the actors that top the list of groups involved in armed demonstrations have been identified previously as movements of concern due to their proclivity for violence, especially around the 2020 presidential election.

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  47. Dude Kembro says:

    @Andy:

    There were two other trials that concluded yesterday that didn’t make much of a splash in the national news:

    Sanity in an otherwise alarming environment, and proof positive that outrage may help cure bad policing.

    But now we have to ramp up the outrage against violent, radical extremist Boogaloo Boys, Patriot Prayer, Proud Boys, and Oath Keeper thugs and vigilantes stepping in where they have no business being. Out of the frying pan, into the fire, two steps forwards and two steps back.

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  48. Terrye Cravens says:

    Why couldn’t Grosskreutz shoot Rittenhouse and claim self defense? Seriously. He was armed and he had every right to feel as if he was in danger. He obviously was. I blame the prosecution for over charging, but mostly I blame Kyle Rittenhouse for going out there with his big gun and playing cop.

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  49. James Joyner says:

    @Terrye Cravens: I just don’t see it. You don’t get to chase someone down, pull a gun on them, and claim ‘self-defense.’

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  50. EddieInCA says:

    @James Joyner:

    James Joyner says:
    Saturday, 20 November 2021 at 17:46
    @Terrye Cravens: I just don’t see it. You don’t get to chase someone down, pull a gun on them, and claim ‘self-defense.’

    Trayvon Martin would disagree if he wasn’t dead.

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  51. James Joyner says:

    @EddieInCA: That case was a gross miscarriage of justice. But at least Zimmerman was able to claim that Martin had cornered him and gotten in some licks.

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  52. Dude Kembro says:

    @James Joyner:

    But at least Zimmerman was able to claim that Martin had cornered him and gotten in some licks.

    This is Proud Boy Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim, wherein an AR-15 is a non-threatening first aid kit his [don’t call them] victims had no right to fear, but a skateboard is a scaaaaary deadly weapon. Murica lol

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  53. EddieInCA says:

    @James Joyner:

    Sorry. You can’t say “You don’t get to chase someone down, pull a gun on them, and claim ‘self-defense.” in defense of Rittenhouse and then say the Zimmerman case was a gross miscarriage of justice.

    The Rittenhouse case, to me, is much worse. That stupid fvck brought an AR-15 to a protest. So much worse.

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  54. senyordave says:

    A very thoughtful piece I came across (this was published before the verdict):
    https://aninjusticemag.com/in-white-america-vigilantes-r-us-7691bbfdf040
    The last paragraph puts things in perspective very well.
    Ironically, Kyle Rittenhouse is the homicidal sociopath that a delusional White America imagines black people to be. Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark and Ahmaud Arbery weren’t criminals. Rittenhouse is.

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  55. wr says:

    @JKB: “But he was as lawfully in Kenosha as anyone there in the aftermath of the rally, perhaps more since he was not committing crimes. ”

    Except, you know, murdering people. But they were libs, so that’s okay with you.

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  56. wr says:

    @James Joyner: ” You don’t get to chase someone down, pull a gun on them, and claim ‘self-defense.’”

    Umm, perhaps you missed the whole Trayvon Martin case.

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  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    A black man with multiple previous felony convictions was acquitted on murder charges for firing at police during a no-knock raid.

    The headline was better than the story where the defendant was only charged with his girlfriend’s murder after the jury acquitted the two officers involved in the shooting. And they still got him on a charge that carries a potential 30-year sentence. Call it a pyrrhic victory.

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  58. JKB says:

    @wr: Except, you know, murdering people.

    Rittenhouse did not murder anyone, either logically from viewing the videos or legally now that the jury has rendered its verdict. He did kill two people and injure on other, all there determined to be imminent threats of death or serious bodily injury to Rittenhouse at the time they were injured by gunfire. As state, two died from their injuries.

    The last, the injured individual, stated, under oath, that at the time he was shot by Rittenhouse that he had his illegally possessed handgun pointed at Rittenhouse with the intention of killing Rittenhouse and stated on social media his only regret was that he didn’t fire sooner.

    Huber is seen on film striking Rittenhouse with a skateboard which is reasonably a deadly weapon as evidenced by others who have been killed after being struck by skateboards by aggressors.

    Rosenbaum had stated earlier his intention to kill Rittenhouse, chased Rittenhouse for some distance and was shot while within 4 ft of Rittenhouse with at least one shot being, according to the medical examiner, while his hand was on or very close to the barrel of Rittenhouse’s rifle, thus supporting the video evidence that Rosenbaum was trying to take Rittenhouse’s firearm, an act that is considered in case law an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury and deadly force is justifiable to stop.

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  59. Dude Kembro says:

    @JKB: Rittenterrorist didn’t murder anyone legally like OJ didn’t murder anyone legally.

    Logically, from common sense, basic decency and morals, and the video evidence the prejudiced, partial judge barred from the courthouse, Rittenhouse murdered two people trying to stop his terrorist actions.

    That disallowed video evidence includes audio of Rittenhouse plainly stating his premeditated intent to “grab his f—g AR” so he could “start shooting rounds” at people, and the refusal to allow video to be magnified and slowed so the jury could better asess the grave threat Rosenbaum, Huber, and Gosskruetz witnessed.

    After stating his violent intent, Rittenhouse, in violation of the spirit of Wisconsin law intended to keep deadly firearms out of the hands of immature thugs like himself, went to Kenosha, shot two people, and injured a good guy with a gun who rightly recognized him as a clear and present threat and heroically attempted to neutralize him.

    Were Kyle Rittenhouse named Omar Abdulhouse, the white men embarasssing and exposing themselves by siding with celebratory white supremacist groups to justify Rittenhouse’s vile actions would instead rightly recognize him as terrorist and his victims as the ones with “every right” to self-defense.

    Especially as the only people who were killed that night — out of hundreds and hundreds — were killed by the murdering thug Kyle Rittenhouse, the only one with an actual weapon that caused death.

    This thug y’all are dying on a hill for later posed in a bar with his Proud Boys mentors, gleefully celebrating his crimes and flashing white power hand gestures, evidence also barred by the biased, undignified Trump judge.

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  60. gVOR08 says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    but a skateboard is a scaaaaary deadly weapon. Murica lol

    Farhad Manjoo has a column at NYT quoting Rittenhouse that it wasn’t the skateboard. He was afraid someone would grab his gun and shoot him with it. The weapon he was terrified of, the weapon he used deadly force to protect himself from, was his own goddamn gun.

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  61. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Andy:

    In a sense, they overcharged, but all of the lesser included offenses rolled up under the proffered charges were available to the jury had they been inclined to convict on any of them. The problem wasn’t overcharging so much as it was prosecutorial ineptitude.

    This boils down to: the prosecution bore the burden of nullifying Rittenhouse’s assertion of self-defense, and it failed in that responsibility. In order to get to convicting him of anything really, that affirmative defense first had to be taken off of the table, which the (admittedly inept) prosecution failed to do. In the resulting scenario, the only remaining avenue left open to the jury was acquittal.

    The rest of the above is outrage about morality and expected outcomes, not the law, so there’s nothing useful IMO to be said about that.

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  62. Dude Kembro says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Eh. The prosecution cannot solve a biased judge hellbent on blocking a jury from seeing video and photographaic evidence of Thug Rittenterrorist’s radicalization, menace, and intent to kill. Which, again, the judge would not have done were the defendant before him named Omar Abdulhouse.

    The prosecution couldn’t solve white supremacy in a few weeks.

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  63. Dude Kembro says:

    @gVOR08:

    Farhad Manjoo has a column at NYT quoting Rittenhouse that it wasn’t the skateboard. He was afraid someone would grab his gun and shoot him with it. The weapon he was terrified of, the weapon he used deadly force to protect himself from, was his own goddamn gun.

    Imagine. All the degrees, and life experience, and military experience here — only to end up more confused about who had a deadly weapon and who had a skateboard than teenage delinquent killer himself is. Sad!

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  64. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    When I said:

    The rest of the above is outrage about morality and expected outcomes, not the law, so there’s nothing useful IMO to be said about that

    this was the exactly the sort of tripe I was speaking about.

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  65. Dude Kembro says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Oh really?

    How nice for you. #CoolStoryBro

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  66. charon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    but all of the lesser included offenses rolled up under the proffered charges were available to the jury had they been inclined to convict on any of them.

    Why would the jury know that, the judge did not tell them. (As Wisconsin judges usually do).

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  67. James Joyner says:

    @charon:

    Why would the jury know that, the judge did not tell them. (As Wisconsin judges usually do).

    Every report I read has Schroeder allowing the jury to consider lesser-includeds, including not only reckless endangerment but even a controversial “provocation” charge.

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  68. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @charon:

    It’s included in the written jury instructions provided to the jury.

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  69. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    Your gripe is with the law as it’s written, which was followed here pretty much to the letter, so work to change that. Accusing the people involved of malfeasance without cause, as you’re doing, simply because they didn’t deliver your emotionally preferred verdict is both pointless and childish.

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  70. wr says:

    @JKB: Yeah, we know the company line.

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  71. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “This boils down to: the prosecution bore the burden of nullifying Rittenhouse’s assertion of self-defense, and it failed in that responsibility.”

    I’m curious how you think they might have gone about this. It seemed to this non-lawyer that the judge essentially shut down every attempt by the prosecutors to bring in any evidence that suggested Rittenhouse had motivations for killing beyond self-defense. What else could they have done?

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  72. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    I’m legitimately curious as to which facts supporting that narrative you believe were excluded.

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  73. Matt says:

    @Andy: You know your rant was doing pretty well up until this part.

    And this illustrates just how monumentally stupid and counterproductive the entire idea of “defund the police” actually is. Because in the absence of police or other legitimate authority, what you get instead are vigilantes and provocateurs who seek to stir up trouble. It’s the reason why the vast majority of black people want more policing and not less.

    In a properly setup “defunding” of the police there would of been mental health workers available to help Rosenbaum instead of just dumping him on the street. That very well could of stopped his presence and the chain of events from happening in the first place. While some people are demanding that police actually get defunded the vast majority of the “defund police” movements seek to re-allocate funds to more effectively respond to emergency calls and situations.

    I would like to note that the non “defunded” police failed massively to do anything. Keep in mind the day time protests were peaceful. It was at night when law enforcement got confrontational that the rioting started. The big stuff happened once out of town millitia types showed up and started agitating.

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