US Trial: Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal

The American Kyle Rittenhouse has been acquitted. The then 17-year-old shot two people at a Black Lives Matter demo. Now there is great fear of violent protests.

After his fatal shots in the US city of Kenosha, the then 17-year-old shooter Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all counts by a jury. The jury unanimously acquitted the now 18-year-old on Friday from allegations of murder, manslaughter, attempted murder and endangering others.

Kyle Rittenhouse shot two men (Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum) with an assault rifle and seriously injured a third (Gaige Grosskreutz) on August 25, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA. His lawyers argued in court that the teenager acted in self-defense because he was attacked by the men. The prosecution, however, argued that Rittenhouse had “provoked” the violence himself.

Politicization of the process

The trial was politically charged from the start because the Kyle Rittenhouse shots were connected to the Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha. In the city of 100,000 people on Michigan Lake, 29-year-old African American Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer.

Initially there were peaceful protests against police violence and against racism. Later, however, some of them also turned into violence. Windows of cars and shops are destroyed, fires have started.

Rittenhouse decided to go to downtown Kenosha, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, according to his own statements, to protect shops from rioters, among other things. In clashes, Rittenhouse then shot two men and seriously injured a third. Several videos show how these arguments came about.

While prosecutors argued that Rittenhouse had acted like a gunman who had to be stopped, the defense argued that the 17-year-old had only fought against his attackers in fear of death.

Fear of violent protests

Immediately after his arrest, Rittenhouse had become a kind of figurehead of the right-wing and republican political camp in the USA. The left and democratic camp, on the other hand, saw in him a racist who killed political opponents at gunpoint. The country seems divided on the question: is Rittenouse a defensive teenager or a racist murderer?

The acquittal of Rittenhouse after four days of deliberations by the jury now arouses fears of violent protests. Immediately after the verdict was announced, protests began on the part of the opposing camp. The legal system is broken, it is said in numerous social media statements. Or Kyle Rittenhouse might still be a murderer forever. If he had been found guilty, it was already indicated beforehand, it would have been the same, only from the other side.

Wisconsin’s Governor Tony Evers had already dispatched hundreds of members of the state’s National Guard for fear of rioting. Kenosha County’s District Attorney Michael Graveley issued an appeal following the verdict after Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges. “We ask all citizens to accept the verdict peacefully and not to resort to violence.”

In a first comment on the verdict, US President Joe Biden said: “I stand by what the jury has to say. The judicial system works and we have to adhere to it.” In a written statement, the US President then announced: “Even if the Kenosha ruling will make many Americans angry and concerned, including me, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken.” He called on everyone to “express their views peacefully and in accordance with the rule of law. Violence and the destruction of property have no place in our democracy,” said Biden.

Bill der Blasio, Democratic Mayor of New York until the end of the year tweeted, however: “Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum are victims. They should be alive today. The only reason they aren’t is because some violent, dangerous man decided to go to another state with a gun and started doing so has to shoot people. To call this judgment a miscarriage of justice is an understatement. “

Republican MP Madison Cawthorn commented publicly on the verdict in a recorded video on the other hand like this: “You have the right to defend yourself. Be armed! Be dangerous!”, said Cawthorn. He also offered Rittenhouse an internship.