The acquittal of white supremacist marks trend and sets dangerous legal precedent.
While remarkable, the not guilty verdict of Kyle Rittenhouse for the mayhem he caused on August 25th was not a surprise. The incident was a case study in the time-honored method of using white supremacy to get away with murder:
Step 1 - Put yourself in some kind of jeopardy
Step 2 - Shoot your way out of it.
It happens so often, it should have a name. We propose “Rittenhousing.”
Rittenhousing worked well enough for George Zimmerman when he picked a fight with Trayvon Martin then pulled a gun when he started to lose. When a police car screeched to a halt at Tamir Rice’s feet he flinched, it gave Officer Timothy Loeman the right to Rittenhouse the boy in front of his family. Currently, in Brunswick, GA, three men are claiming they had to Rittenhouse Ahmaud Arbery when he attacked them following a chase of several hundred yards.
Kyle Rittenhouse had to travel 20 miles to earn the title. When no one attacked the empty building he was protecting, he wandered off. He had an AR-15 and a medic kit, so he was either looking for a fight or someone to help. After he inflicted a gunshot to treat, Rittenhouse ran away. So it wasn’t the latter.
Besides killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, Rittenhouse also maimed Gaige Grosskreutz before returning to the police line as if nothing had happened. Later, as his jury was being chosen, Rittenhouse regaled his fellow racists with accounts of his rampage, occasionally flashing the “white power” hand gesture in selfies with them.
But even with these countless displays of innocence, Rittenhouse might not have gotten off without the help of Judge Bruce Schroeder. Without him, the dead might have been called “victims” in the presence of a jury instead of “rioters and looters”. He prevented jurors from considering that the defendant could have possibly been guilty by having them presume his victims were guilty instead. Judge Schroeder also had the jury literally applaud a witness for the defense before he testified. And just before the jury retired, he dismissed the one charge no one was really disputing, that Rittenhouse was too young to carry a gun around on city streets at night. Evidently, Judge Schoeder considers the shooting spree “...complying with hunting-related restrictions”. To be fair, Kyle was technically hunting.
So how could these killings have been driven by white supremacy when all of the victims (or whatever you call them) were white? They were all shot because they were fervently anti-racist. If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, this should be clear: everyone suffers the effects of racism. Even if you are white, you can be gunned down in the street with impunity for merely opposing it.
If we lived in a just world, the prosecution could call for a mistrial. but in the world in which we live, Rittenhouse is protected by double jeopardy. We can hope that civil suits will drain whatever money his family grifts off of the racist community.
But we can also act.
We can pay attention to the judges we elect and make sure they understand that one’s will is not imposed upon others at gunpoint in a democracy. We can make sure that those who appoint judges share our values. We can rescind Stand Your Ground laws and replace them with a duty to retreat.
Moreover, we can reject the fantastic thinking that fetishizes firearms by pointing out Rittenhousing whenever we see it. Now that it is effectively legal, we should expect to see it a lot more in the near future.