Rittenhouse Verdict

Joshua Einhorn, Head of Games

On Friday, November 19th, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges. In 2020, Rittenhouse murdered two people and injured another in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests Liberals and Conservatives have been using both the shooting and acquittal in their public outreach, and most of the nation has an opinion on whether Kyle Rittenhouse deserved to be acquitted.

On August 23rd 2020, in Kenosha Wisconsin 29 year old black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times by Rustin Sheskey, a police officer in Kenosha Wisconsin. As a result of these wounds Jacob Blake became paralyed from the waist down. Protests began and as a response, various groups of armed men began to form on social media. These groups met with the purpose of carrying out vigilante justice and protecting businesses from being vandalized. Kyle Rittenhouse was one of these “men” even though he was only 17 at the time. Rittenhouse came to the protests armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle. After confronting the first of his victims earlier in the night, Rittenhouse shot him four times at close range. He testified that he had lunged at him and tried to take his rifle before, which corroborated with the testimony that was given by a journalist. Rittenhouse then ran away into the street when he was struck in the neck by a skateboard. Rittenhouse then shot the attacker once in the chest, fatally killing him. The third victim then aimed a handgun at Rittenhouse, to which Rittenhouse shot him in the arm, wounding but not killing him.

In 2012 Trayvon Martin, an African-American 17 year old was fatally shot by a member of a community watch. When the killer was brought to trial, he was acquitted claiming the shooting was in self defence. Many people have pointed out the unfairness in the trial, especially how Martin was treated like an adult (he was still 17) while Rittenhouse’s lawyers were able to use the argument that he was a kid to their advantage.

Many groups have been blamed for the shootings, Republicans have blamed the victims of the shooting while Democrats have blamed Rittenhouse. In my opinion the most guilty party is the gun laws in America. Why does a 17 year old, or anyone for that matter, need to have a weapon used for mass shootings? What purpose does that serve?

Strong reactions happened on both sides of the political spectrum with many conservatives supporting Rittenhouse and many Liberals disagreeing with the verdict. President Joe Biden, who is a Democrat, has stated that we need to respect the verdict while Representative Matt Gaetz who is a Republican, has said that he is willing to offer Rittenhouse an internship. With all of the praise he is receiving from Republicans, this is setting a precedent that what he did was not wrong. Regardless of how you feel about the verdict, people dying is not a good thing and even if you agree with the verdict, two people died and I hope we can agree that that was a bad thing-regardless of who was responsible. I surveyed 32 Baruch high school students to see how they felt about the verdict, 27 (84%) said that they disagree with the verdict while 5 students (16%) said that they didn’t know enough about the trial to form an opinion. No student said that they agreed with the verdict.

Regardless of whether you think the Rittenhouse verdict was just or not, I don’t see how anyone who is outside of the military should have a firearm like the one used in the shooting. There have been twelve mass shootings since 2012 that have involved AR-15s and as long as citizens still have their AR’s we will continue to see these tragedies.