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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Rittenhouse’s situation is akin to breaking into the lion exhibit at the zoo, then killing the animals in self defense.
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:
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.
“when an American jury does its civic duty”
@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.
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.
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.
Yes. That’s my take as well.
“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.
via Michael Harriot:
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.
@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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Indeed. And here’s another take for you, from Paul Campos at LGM.
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.
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.
David French writes:
James, you wrote:
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.
@gVOR08: Yup, and he goes on to point out
The issue is our culture, not our laws.
There has been a lot of erroneous reporting about this that has stuck in peoples’ minds and colored their perceptions.
Above link from July 5 issue well worth a read, lots of good background info on the kid.
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.
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.
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.
” 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.
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.
@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?
@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.
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.
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.
@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.
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…
Hadley has this right:
It’s a legal miscarriage of justice, but a miscarriage of justice nonetheless.
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.
@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.
@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.
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.
@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.
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.
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.
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?
There were two other trials that concluded yesterday that didn’t make much of a splash in the national news:
A black man with multiple previous felony convictions was acquitted on murder charges for firing at police during a no-knock raid.
A white detective in Kansas City was convicted of manslaughter for killing a black man in his own backyard.
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?
@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.
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
@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.
True. And there are several teams of conservative lawyers eager to make a buck off donors eager to support any RW Rittenhouse copycats.
@Jim Brown 32:
I just came across this (via Yastreblyansky):
More from the link:
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.
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.
@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.
@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.
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
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.
A very thoughtful piece I came across (this was published before the verdict):
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.
@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.
@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.
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.
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.
@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.
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.
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.
@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.
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!
When I said:
this was the exactly the sort of tripe I was speaking about.
@HarvardLaw92: Oh really?
How nice for you. #CoolStoryBro
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.
It’s included in the written jury instructions provided to the jury.
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.
@JKB: Yeah, we know the company line.
@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?
I’m legitimately curious as to which facts supporting that narrative you believe were excluded.
@Andy: You know your rant was doing pretty well up until this part.
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.