The Verdict on Kyle Rittenhouse

A 17-year old boy named Kyle Rittenhouse shot three men in Kenosha, Wisconsin amid rioting on August 25, 2020. Two of the three that were shot ended up dying, and one of them was injured. The incident and the rioting occurred just two days after the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man shot in the back 7 times, but not killed, by a police officer. But did Rittenhouse act in self-defense? Did he legally carry his gun? On November 19, 2021, Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all five charges.
Rittenhouse – a resident of Antioch, Illinois at the time – traveled to Kenosha to volunteer by cleaning graffiti off a high school building. He didn’t just randomly go to Kenosha; he testified that he had a father and relatives that lived there. He also was employed as a lifeguard in nearby Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin at the time of the shooting. He went with his friends later that day to protect a car dealership. He explained the following in a video by Richard McGinnis, a reporter for the conservative news outlet, The Daily Caller, who became a key witness in the case: “So people are getting injured, and our job is to protect this business, and part of my job is to also help people. If there is somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle — because I can protect myself, obviously. But I also have my med kit.”
He carried a Smith & Wesson M&P15 that belonged to his friend, Dominick Black, and he never possessed it in Illinois. This means that only gun laws in Wisconsin will pertain to Rittenhouse, and those laws state that Rittenhouse legally carried the gun. When this came to light, the judge had to drop the “Possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18” charge, which was one of two charges that were dropped. Under section 948.60(3)(c) in Wisconsin law, it states that the section only applies to the person under 18 that possesses or is armed with the weapon if he/she is in violation of section 941.28, or is in violation of both section 29.304 and section 29.593. Rittenhouse did not violate s. 941.28, since he would’ve had to have carried a short-barreled rifle to violate this section, which he did not. As for ss. 29.304 and 29.593, Rittenhouse and the defense admitted that 29.593 was in violation since he did not own a hunter’s safety certification, but he did not violate 29.304 since he was not under 16. Therefore, Rittenhouse violates neither condition under 948.60(3)(c) and therefore does not violate the section as a whole, causing the charge to be invalid for his case.
A man named Joseph Rosenbaum, a convicted sex offender, helped push a dumpster that had been lit with an arson fire towards police cars. Rittenhouse, and others, used fire extinguishers to put out the fire. Rosenbaum became enraged, and many witnesses testified that he shouted expletives and racial slurs while threatening to kill Rittenhouse. Reuters reports that at around 11:45 pm that day, Rosenbaum chases Rittenhouse into a car lot as Rittenhouse yells the word “friendly” three times to communicate that he didn’t want to hurt anybody. According to AP, Rittenhouse said that a man named Joshua Ziminski yells “get him” and “kill him,” as Rosenbaum chases Rittenhouse. Rosenbaum throws a plastic bag with toiletries at Rittenhouse. There were also reports that Rosenbaum was swinging a chain in his hand before the shooting, but it is unknown whether he had it with him while chasing Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse is then cornered by Rosenbaum in the car lot. Rosenbaum lunges for the weapon and puts his hand on the barrel, as testified by Rittenhouse and Richard McGinnis, the reporter who filmed Rittenhouse before the shooting. Ziminski then shoots his gun in the air, and about 2-3 seconds later Rittenhouse shoots Rosenbaum 4 times. Rittenhouse said, “If I would’ve let Mr. Rosenbaum take my firearm from me, he would’ve used it and killed me with it and probably killed more people.” McGinnis comes along and takes off his shirt to provide aid for Rosenbaum, while Rittenhouse is standing next to him trying to call Dominick Black, the owner of the AR-15. Then, as Rittenhouse is calling Black, more members of the mob are going after Rittenhouse, so he flees from the scene and tells Black on the phone that he “shot somebody.”
Minutes after shooting Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse ran down Sheridan Road, which was full of angry people yelling more threats. After Rittenhouse tripped and fell to the ground, a man named Anthony Huber hit Rittenhouse in the left shoulder as well as in the head or neck with a skateboard and attempted to take the rifle. It appeared that Huber tried to pull the gun away from Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse fires one round, which Huber quickly dies from his wounds. Then, another man named Gaige Grosskreutz approached Rittenhouse with a handgun in his right hand, standing about 3-5 feet away from Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse fired one round at Grosskreutz, which did not kill him but blew the bicep off Grosskreutz’s right arm. During Grosskreutz’s testimony, the defense got him to admit that he had his handgun pointing at Rittenhouse before he had his bicep “vaporized.” Rittenhouse continues his way and tries to turn himself into the police with his hands up and his rifle strapped around his body, but is unsuccessful as he is pepper sprayed by one officer once he approaches the window of the police car. The police drove off. He turned himself into the police station at Antioch, Illinois at 1:30 in the morning, and was arrested at that point.
Throughout the trial, the prosecution had a terrible case. Thomas Binger, one of the assistant district attorneys for Kenosha county and lead prosecutor of the case, said the following in his opening statement, as though the idea of self-defense didn’t exist: “The only person who killed anyone was the defendant, Kyle Rittenhouse.” As that argument failed, Binger then argued in his closing statement that Rittenhouse “loses the right to self-defense” if he provoked the incident by carrying his gun. The idea that Rittenhouse had no right to defend himself because he carried the gun is false. First of all, he legally carried the gun as the judge ruled and the law says. Second, even if he is illegally carrying the gun, he still has a right to self-defense. Additionally, Rittenhouse didn’t provoke the incident by carrying the gun. Rosenbaum didn’t have to chase after him. The fact that Rittenhouse was armed had nothing to do with why Rosenbaum threatened to kill him. Rather, evidence shows that it was due to Rittenhouse putting out the arson fire when Rosenbaum’s anger towards Rittenhouse started.
Rittenhouse did what most defendants don’t do: Testify in court. During his testimony, he broke down into tears while talking about his horrific encounter with Rosenbaum. Many politicians as well as those from the media and Hollywood accused Rittenhouse of fake crying, or as media personality Exavier Pope called them “crocodile tears.” When the prosecution cross-examined Rittenhouse, he testified the following: “I didn’t intend to kill them. I intended to stop the people who were attacking me.” Binger even included questions regarding Rittenhouse’s post-arrest silence, which Judge Bruce Schroeder called a “grave constitutional violation.” Later, Schroeder and Binger got into a fiery exchange over Binger’s line of questioning. The prosecution also tried to connect Rittenhouse’s interest in the video game, Call of Duty, with his actions in Kenosha, but ultimately failed as Rittenhouse tried to explain that it’s just a game and that it isn’t real. Although the prosecution performed poorly, the media, Hollywood, and politicians continued to make false accusations and defamatory statements against Rittenhouse. In 2020, then-Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, accused Rittenhouse of being a white supremacist in a tweet. Democrat US Representative from New York, Hakeem Jeffries, tweeted “Lock up Kyle Rittenhouse and throw away the key.” Also, Democrat US Representative from Missouri, Cori Bush, tweeted this after the verdict: “The judge. The jury. The defendant. It’s white supremacy in action.” MSNBC posted an opinion piece titled “Kyle Rittenhouse trial was designed to protect white conservatives who kill.” Kyle Rittenhouse may even file a defamation lawsuit against some of these individuals and outlets, now that he is acquitted. Following the verdict, a riot has been declared in Portland, Oregon, but surprisingly not in Kenosha. Imagine being in a position where you are hated by the media, the president, and rioters across the country for something that you knew you had the right to do. Despite being acquitted, Rittenhouse has to live with this horrific memory for the rest of his life.