Kyle Rittenhouse, an 18-year old is currently standing trial for gunning down 3 white men, killing two of them, and fatally wounding the other during the August 2020 protest against police brutality.
This protest was held after a white police officer shot a black man, Jacob Blake 7 times, 4 times in the back and 3 on the side.
Jacob Blake was shot by Rusten Sheskey after he tried to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. Sheskey assumed that he was about to be stabbed since Blake was carrying a pocket knife. In January 2021, it was announced that the two officers involved in his shooting would not be charged, and Sheskey will return to regular police duty starting in April 2021.
Moving on to the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, he shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36-year-old, Anthony Huber, 26-year-old, and Gaige Grosskeutz, now 27-year-old with a military-style rifle. Again, he was a minor with a military rifle and was asked to guard some used car dealership business due to the threat of looting and arson. Also, he brought a medical kit with an objective to aid anybody injured. One video footage shows Rittenhouse asking the police officers for water, and one police officer said, “We appreciate you guys. We really do.”
After he committed the crime, he walked towards the police officer, with his arms up and the rifle slung across his body. The police didn’t impede him, rather told him to get out of the way and he was eventually sprayed with red pepper when Rittenhouse was approaching the window of a patrol car.
Do we see the double standard?
The trial is currently in its second week and the Presiding Judge, Bruce Schroeder, heavily criticized the prosecution twice for his line of questioning. Before the trial, he ruled that prosecutors will not refer to the people shot as “victims” before the jury. However, those people can be called “looters” or “arsonists”. Schroeder also made an anti-Asian remark in regards to lunch. Other than that, Schroeder went an extra mile questioning some video footage evidence, and even telling the jury to praise a defense witness.
All these signals indicate the biasedness of the court towards the perpetrator, who seemingly cried invisible tears to paint himself as a terrorized teen. According to his mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, Kyle still has “nightmares” about that night, and “has a lot of healing to do”. The defense asked for a mistrial with prejudice, which if granted means that Rittenhouse cannot be retried for the shootings.
This has not been uncommon in the US, where there is underlying White Supremacy in order. These rulings usually lead to the white perpetrators escaping with little to no consequences and sometimes even with donations from others. Take, for example, The Ferguson Riot and Ferguson Unrest (2014-2015), which was triggered by the shooting of Michael Brown Jr., an 18-year-old African-American by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. After several months, the grand jury decided not to indict Wilson on any criminal charges, who later resigned of his own free will. He was also reportedly donated $400,000 by his well-wishers (however, he couldn’t access the money). Another example is the shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, a 24-year-old African American. He was shot twelve times by a white police officer Randall Kerrick, who was charged with voluntary manslaughter but never convicted. Instead, Kerrick was given a package of nearly $180,000, including back pay and legal fees. In addition, the agreement meant he would receive his full salary, social security, and retirement contributions.
Another case unwinding in parallel is the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. A 25-year-old, African American jogger, Ahmaud was chased by three white men in vehicles and was fatally shot on February 23rd, 2020. It took more than two months for the three men to be arrested. They each have nine charges, including murder and aggravated assault, with none of them pleading guilty. Gregory McMichael, one of the murderers, told the police he thought Arbery resembled a suspect in a series of local break-ins (however, no report was filed regarding these break-ins). He and his son, Travis McMichael, then armed themselves with a pistol and a shotgun, pursuing Arbery in a pickup. According to their lawyer, they acted in “self-defense” which was initially supposed to be just a “citizen’s arrest”. In addition, the defense has requested the prosecutors for Arbery not to be called a victim, to prevent the jury from reaching a half-cooked conclusion. This case initially began with a jury of 48 people, 12 of whom were White and was reduced to a jury of 11 Whites and only 1 Black.
Recently during the trial, the attorney of William Roddie Bryan, one of the murderers, caused an uproar by saying, “We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here or other Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim’s family trying to influence a jury in this case.” He later apologized for his remarks.
These two cases fall under the White Supremacy category which is widely apparent throughout the history of the USA, from Black Wall Street to Jan 6. US Capitol Attack. If these hearings result in acquittals, then it is evident and on par with the USA’s deep-rooted views of White men having absolute power over the Black people. White bullies and vigilantes always escape without any conviction, arguing that it was all in “self-defense”. These White defendants kill solely on baseless assumptions, escaping with minimum punishment, and are strangely not regarded as “terrorists” or “murderers”. This showcases the deeply rooted inequality and racism in the governing bodies and the justice system. Had it been the reverse situation; where Black men or a teenager had killed White men, would “self-defense” be enough explanation for them? Would the word “victim” be not used then?
Here is Joy Reid’s take on the cases from October 16th, 2021 show.