Kyle Rittenhouse verdict: Our nation’s polarized politics put on trial


Credit: Katya Luzarraga

WSPN’s Katya Luzarraga talks the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse and the verdict that has become a talking piece amongst Americans.

Katya Luzarraga

Commotion erupts as people absorb the news that 18 year-old Kyle Rittenhouse is released as a free man. Handfuls of the crowd outside of Kenosha County Courthouse display smiles on their faces, while others are shocked and outraged by the verdict. The words “I’m not surprised” ring through the crowd. These three words are a reflection of our judicial system, and it’s heartbreaking.

Rittenhouse was charged with homicide and recklessly endangering safety. He shot Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz during a protest in Kenosha, Wis. on Aug. 25, 2020, killing Rosenbaum and Huber. The protest was the culmination of social unrest created by the police shooting of black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer on Aug. 23, 2020.

Encapsulating the mindset of many Americans, this acquittal puts our nation’s priorities into perspective.

To start the case off, Richard McGinnis, chief video director of the right-wing newspaper, The Daily Caller, testified for the prosecution about the night of Aug. 25, 2020. McGinnis told the jury that the encounter between Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum was charged with the sense that “something bad was going to happen.” After an extensive three hours of testimony by McGinnis, the prosecution seemed to have the short end of the stick.

Rittenhouse’s attorneys argued self-defense, forcing the prosecution to grasp for any evidence that would disprove the defense’s case to the jury. The prosecution suffocated, buried deeper and deeper by air-tight testimony and video evidence throughout the trial. Rittenhouse had convinced the jury that he acted in self-defense.

The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse shows a significant miscarriage of justice in our legal system. Rittenhouse is permitted to shape the rest of his life, either as a nurse or a law enforcement officer, while his victims, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, are robbed of that luxury.

Additionally, the victims of Rittenhouse’s crimes weren’t allowed to be called such in the courthouse of Judge Bruce Schroeder. Schroeder believed that given Rittenhouse was not yet convicted of any crimes at the time of his trial and was “innocent,” it was premature to call Rosenbaum and Huber “victims.” Nevertheless, Schroeder allowed the prosecution to describe the men Rittenhouse shot as “rioters,” “arsonists” and “looters.” This decision by Schroeder led many people to believe the trial was set to one side of the scale before any testimony was even introduced to the court.

Rittenhouse’s own testimony was a moving display, and it played a significant role in his acquittal. While on the stand, Rittenhouse broke down as he described the moments before he shot Rosenbaum, managing to say that he was being cornered by Rosenbaum and another man, Joshua Ziminski, between heaving sobs.

These tears were genuine and vulnerable, aiding to his testimony on Wed, Nov. 17. By painting a clear picture of how traumatic his encounter on the night of the rally was for himself, his character was strengthened and realized by the jurors. His testimony and tears almost made the viewer forget about the two lives that he took on the night of Aug. 25, 2020.

By acquitting a high profile case that involved self-defense by the use of an AR-15 style rifle, Rittenhouse has inadvertently become the poster child for supporting gun laws. Kenosha County Courthouse’s validation of Rittenhouse’s actions against three human beings has given him and anyone supporting gun laws a perceived free pass. This verdict conveys the idea that, in a court of law, it’s become justified to kill people… as long as you have a “good” reason, of course.

Rittenhouse, the new hero of the Republican party, has been scouted out by politicians since he was exonerated. He has appeared on Fox News for an interview with Tucker Carlson, met with former president Donald Trump and has been offered internships by Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Madison Cawthorn. These politicians are scooping up Rittenhouse and placing him right into the palms of their political agendas.

The interview on Fox News depicts Rittenhouse as a pillar of his community, helping out wherever necessary; whether that meant helping people who needed first aid or protecting vulnerable businesses. All of this makes Rittenhouse seem like a vigilante who was combating the violence that occurred that night, not abetting it.

Lots of rioters at the scene were armed with weapons, but the main difference between the others and Rittenhouse was that Rittenhouse acted on his weapon and, in turn, killed two people.

As the Rittenhouse victims’ families readjust their lives without a beloved family member, they watch him get buddy-buddy with Fox News to tell his side of the story, and no retribution is given. Where are the victims’ stories?

Reactions of the verdict from Huber’s and Rosenbaum’s family and friends highlight the inequity of the Rittenhouse trial. All that they should have left of their loved ones is the peace of mind that their killer is held responsible for his actions. Now, they don’t even get that.

Huber’s parents are devastated with the “not-guilty” verdict and vow that “Anthony will get his day in court.” Even President Joe Biden spoke out when the verdict was given. Biden voiced his disapproval, but he ultimately said that the legal system had done its part in the Rittenhouse trial and that the public had to accept this.

The Rittenhouse trial was an insight into our current judicial system. Biden is right, this miscarriage of justice isn’t shocking, and it isn’t the first. It’s how the system was designed to work. Our world balances on the ever-shifting scale of what is “right” and “wrong,” but as long as there are cases like Rittenhouse, the system will never be just.