The Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial is a case that has been a long time coming in the American judicial system. What constitutes self-defense, vigilantism or flat out murder? We’ve often had a grey area in discussing the matter and it’s only gotten worse in the last 20 years.
When I was working in Americus, Ga., there were two murder cases in which the accused were determined to have defended themselves. The first one was a case that had been on the books before I started. A young teenage girl, white, was in an abusive household where her stepfather or mother’s boyfriend had been abusive physically and probably emotionally. I don’t remember the details much but I do remember he had cornered her in a bathroom where she was cowering in the space between the toilet and the vanity or the toilet and the tub with him over her. Either way, her back was literally up against the wall. It was fight or die. And she stabbed him.
The case led to a lot of speculation considering that the only witness was the young girl’s mother, but there was a history of violence with police reports. So, the judge took into consideration the first offenders rule and dismissed the case. The lawyer handling her case was one of those that would often take cases in which people either were guilty as sin and looking for a loophole or railroaded by the system. Law enforcement didn’t like him but it was southwestern Georgia in the 21st Century. They probably were upset over a lot of things they had to change. The lawyer was also co-publisher of a weekly newspaper in town in attempt to be an alternative to the five-daily I worked at.
The second case was a young woman in her 20s, black, and it occurred in one of those neighborhoods were many black people and Afro-Latina lived. Just like the previous case, it was self-defense case but I think they’re might have been a gun involved or maybe it was a knife. The woman was arrested on a complaint of murder but the charge was eventually dropped as further investigation ruled she was in a “fight or die” situation. I think there had been previous reports of domestic abuse. It was almost two decades ago. I don’t remember much. I was one of those neighborhoods that was constantly in the police blotter for domestic dispute complaints.
We’ve had the “Castle doctrine” in place for years. If you’re defending yourself, most times, law enforcement and the courts don’t even bother to file charges. So, what changed in the last 20 years that made people literally go batshit crazy about guns and right to defend themselves?
I would say a lot of it has to do with the explosion of the Internet and social media that spreads this crap. I also think “Zero Tolerance” in schools has led to a lot of people not wanting to see others get away with it. In some school districts, if someone picks a fight with you, even if you don’t fight back, you’re still technically in a fight. And administrators are punishing victims.
For many Millenials and Zers being forced to go to a school where if someone hits them and if they don’t immediately go to the teacher or administrator, they can get suspended or expelled, it angers a lot. It does seem like a raw deal. Winona Ryder said she was attacked by some bullies and she was expelled because of it. There is a case at a school in North Carolina where a woman was sexually harassed or assaulted and the school is refusing to believe it even though the police have arrested the guy. And they’re punishing her for making a false claim.
My nephew was arrested for firing at a guy who was harassing him and his son by driving up on his yard. The charges were dropped. A family friend with rental property back in northern Georgia was arrested for going on her own property to get some squatters out. They claimed she was armed and threatened her. And it just so happened, it was the shift when one of the dumbest deputies on the sheriff’s force was called to handle the report. They were armed because the squatters were drug dealers/users.
I mean, it’s fucking nuts. People are fed up with “Daddy’s money” and because someone was a good football or baseball player back in high school, they’re given leniency. But our American judicial system has always been about discrimination. And legal precedents have actually harmed more people than they’ve helped.
Years ago, many states had adopted policies regarding civil cases because people could lose their homes and possessions if someone breaks a window to burglarize a home and cuts a major vein or artery and either dies or nearly bleeds out. It was supposed to stop adding insult to injury. Or if someone comes after you in your own home or property with a weapon and you defend yourself by harming them, they sue you and win. Something had to be done to stop these “ambulance chasing lawyers” from victimizing victims.
In Colorado, they call the Castle doctrine the “Make My Day” law which is loaded with so many problems. First off, a Dirty Harry saying isn’t the best thing to name a law after. Second, it’s from the movie Sudden Impact, which is about a rape victim hunting down the people responsible. It’s about vigilantism. And the climax is Dirty Harry helping the victim put the blame on a rapist scumbag.
In many of these case of Stand Your Grand or Make My Day or whatever they call it, the victims can’t be sued for wrongful death or harming another. But where do we draw the line on what is defending yourself and turning into a vigilante killer.
The problem I see with the Rittenhouse case is there was no reason whatsoever for him to be in Kenosha, Wis. on Aug. 25, 2020. He lived in Antioch, Ill., many miles away from the town. He was 17 years at the time. He shouldn’t be carrying an AR-15 without adult supervision to begin with. His mother reportedly drove him to the location.
Now, during the trial, people who owned the car lot said they didn’t ask for any help. Members of the Kenosha Guard said Rittenhouse wasn’t affiliated with them. One of the men Rittenhouse is accused of murdering was Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, unarmed, who apparently was homeless and suffering from mental health and threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse according to reports. He was only later reported that Rosenbaum had been convicted of sexual conduct of a minor and was not part of the unrest in Kenosha following the shooting of Jacob Blake a few days earlier by law enforcement.
Anthony Huber, 26, was there and he had a skateboard. Reports indicate that Huber was trying to defend himself with the skateboard. He was a Kenosha resident. Gaige Grosskreutz has testified in court he thought Rittenhouse was an active shooter. Grosskreutz was shot in the arm. What no one reports that Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz didn’t know each other. If I was new coming into this, it sounds like Rittenhouse was on a rampage shooting people.
Three separate incidents in which Rittenhouse was walking through Kenosha shooting people. This wasn’t the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral where legally sworn people were to disarm cowboys and it all happened in one small area. He was going through the streets of Kenosha shooting people. If he was innocent, he would’ve stopped after he shot Rosenbaum. He was on a mission. He wanted to kill people.
And unfortunately, I don’t think some people see this, because the story they’re being fed this was a quick incident that happened where Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz were all in one spot circling in, or flanking Rittenhouse. After the Rosenbaum incident, of course, people are going to chase him down. They have a right to defend themselves.
Grosskreutz said he thought Rittenhouse was an active shooter. This is my problem with people who take firearms to shopping malls and department stores like Target and Wal-Mart. In the event there is a real-life active shooter, how will someone who has never seen most or any of the people in the store before in their life, able to tell who is the bad guy and who is the “good guy with a gun?” You hear gun shots and you cower down to seek shelter, you’re not going to ask a person with an AR-15 if he is the good guy. You’re just going to assume he is the shooter because there is a motherfucking shooter in the store. How fucking hard is it for people to realize many people in the store don’t know them from Adam so they’re going to call 911 giving them this description.
And they’re even questioning why Grosskreutz had a gun as he said it was just to defend himself as he was a paramedic and EMT. So, I guess it’s all one sided. If you have a gun out in public, you should be on the side of the gun nuts. Following the aftermath of the 2020 elections, Jan. 6 insurrection and inauguration of President Joe Biden, I was carrying my .40 caliber handgun everywhere I went. I was like Grosskreutz. I didn’t want to use it, but I didn’t want to be out somewhere and have some crazy MAGA Trump supporter go nuts.
What people defending Rittenhouse are trying to do is search history of those killed to justify it. Saul was a killer before blinded on the road to Damascus and baptized and born again as Paul, but if someone didn’t turn in their homework back in the seventh grade, it’s justification for them to be shot by police or “good guys with guns.” Rosenbaum had been convicted of a sex crime and he served his time. Trump is a sexual predator himself but why is it okay. The more the right and the gun enthusiasts choose to research a past history to find some justification, the more they’re losing their arguments and they know it.
Grosskreutz had every right to carry a gun as they say Rittenhouse did. Rittenhouse is being charged with misdemeanor possession of a dangerous weapon while under 18 and it’ll be hard to beat this wrap since the video clearly shows it. If the Second Amendment is really important, then why do law enforcement target certain people for having guns on their person, their cars and in their homes.
It’s okay for teachers to have guns to shoot students, but it’s not okay for others. Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, was initially arrested after he fired on the police who issued a “no-knock warrant” on the house. Charges were later dropped, but what was Walker to do if people bust into his house in the middle of the night. Isn’t this the Castle doctrine? Isn’t this Stand Your Ground?
At the same way the defense of people in southeast Georgia in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery say that he was trying to reach for the gun of the people who had chased him down and held him at gunpoint. If Arbery had a gun on his person, they would have also defended his killers for chasing and gunning him down.
Let’s face facts and stop beating around the bush. White people hate non-white people and those who don’t have the strict extreme ideas of them and think it’s their duty to kill them. And this is why none of these cases will have a good outcome.
If Rittenhouse is convicted, it definitely will be appealed. And I think it should be settled by a higher court. But I feel regardless of he’s convicted or acquitted, there will be no resolve. They’re probably will be civil unrest regardless. The same people who saw themselves as patriots during the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt are really hoping they are given a License to Kill whoever they want.
At the end of the day, Rittenhouse’s life is over. If convicted, he’s spends the rest of his life in prison. If acquitted, he’s still got a target on him. Who will hire him? Fox New? One America Network? He can’t work in law enforcement. They don’t want any trigger-happy person on the job. Not getting the insurance alone will keep him from being hired. And it’s not like he has a bland generic name like Williams, Smith, Jones, of even my surname, Thomas.
People know what he looks like. They know what his name is. And someone might decide either in prison, if convicted, or in the free world, if acquitted, for a little justice. I seriously doubt he’ll be in general population. He’ll be in the protective wings of prisons. And if acquitted, the media will be watching him.
Will Rittenhouse be another George Zimmerman?
Part of me feels there should be more people adjudicated if Rittenhouse is convicted. His mother deserves to be charged. At 17, he should have never been allowed to possess it, much less take it out in public.
This also should bring changes to the purchase of firearms. Yes, I know when you were growing up in the 1950s, you carried a rifle in your pick-up truck to school because you went deer hunting before or after school. But rules are rules.
But yet, I still feel nothing will come out of this. Not while we have the same people in elected offices and in the media. It will take something far worse than this.
What’s sad is it would have been easily prevented.