Knock down the ‘Ritten-House’

On Nov. 19, 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges after shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz in Kenosha Wisconsin, two of them fatally.

The shooting happened during protests after a white officer in Kenosha shot African American civilian Jacob Blake, leaving him paralyzed. Blake’s story is one that seems to be repeated throughout the history of the United States. The protests that followed included widespread looting, arson and property destruction as seen in other cities in the wake of similar shootings.

 Before the start of the protests, Rittenhouse’s social media was filled with posts supporting Blue Lives Matter. Rittenhouse claimed self-defense to the jury who deliberated for three days before acquitting him on all charges. The rhetoric depicted by Rittenhouse before the trial contradicts the pro-BLM propaganda he spewed in front of cameras today in his interview with Tucker Carlson. Rittenhouse said, “I’m not a racist person. I support the BLM movement. I support peacefully demonstrating.”

Another factor that contradicts Rittenhouse’s story is the copious planning that went into his trip to Kenosha. Rittenhouse had an AR-15 style assault rifle purchased for him by a friend well before he traveled to Kenosha. A gun of that caliber is not one purchased for recreation and was described by the New York Times as a “military-style semi-automatic rifle.” 

On Aug. 25, Rittenhouse ventured from his home in Antioch, Illinois to the demonstrations as part of a Facebook group, titled “Armed Citizens to Protect our Lives and Property,” who vowed to protect and aid the police. During his trial Rittenhouse said, “Part of my job also is to protect people. If someone is hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle.”

That was not Rittenhouse’s job and, even if it was, he failed miserably. Rittenhouse took the lives of two people using an illegally purchased firearm. What else can carrying a firearm of that caliber over state lines be viewed as other than premeditated murder? If Rittenhouse truly wanted to protect people he would have worked to deescalate the situation in a safe manner. Even if he felt he needed protection, which may be understandable due to the chaos some protests have erupted into, he could have brought a smaller weapon or simply not gone at all. Bringing that weapon automatically fueled an already impassioned demonstration and brought a new level of violence to the protests that ultimately resulted in death. 

Though what is even more disturbing to me is the gun laws currently active in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is an open-carry state, meaning people can carry firearms openly and without a permit. During the protests this led to men coming with ammo strapped to their chests, carrying assault rifles and wearing camouflage in an attempt to “protect the city.” Through this unhinged law, Wisconsin essentially encouraged civilian policing of the Kenosha premises. They allowed the murders and violence that took place, chosing the American’s right to bear arms over the lives of those present.

Although there were many men with guns present at the protest, the injuries inflicted by Rittenhouse took center stage. One of the victims, Rosenbaum (deceased) lunged at Rittenhouse prompting Rittenhouse to shoot him four times. During the trial, Rittenhouse said, “Mr. Rosenbaum was chasing me. He said he was going to kill me if he got me alone. I was alone. I was running from him. I pointed it at him, and it didn’t stop him from continuing to chase me.” 

Writing this article, I feel like a broken record— swap out a few words, some names, and run this piece when the next shooting takes place.

— Lucy Langhart

Following the shooting of Rosenbaum, a small crowd chased Rittenhouse causing him to fire and injure two more people. Huber (deceased) struck Rittenhouse with a skateboard before his fatal shooting, and Rittenhouse then wounded his final victim, Grosskreutz, who had a loaded glock, a weapon that was dwarfed by Rittenhouse’s own gun.

The corruption of our governmental system truly began to show when the trial started with the judge declaring the word “victim” was not allowed, but “looters” and “rioters” were. Another glaring disadvantage was the fact that two of the three key witnesses were dead due to the actions of Rittenhouse.

The case of Rittenhouse is just another story in the already long anthology of white, male privilege that this country has been writing since its foundation. The fact that an 18-year-old, someone my age, was able to enter a situation such as the protests in Kenosha, with a semi-automatic gun is disgraceful for this country.

Rosenbaum was not armed when he was murdered, and let’s be clear, it was murder. Whether the court chooses to label him as a “rioter” or “looter”  does not erase the fact that he is a victim, a victim of a very stupid teenager and a very outdated gun law.

I do not blame Rittenhouse for the proceedings that took place as much as I blame the Second Amendment, Former President Donald Trump (now a proud endorser of Rittenhouse’s actions as seen in an Instagram posted recently by Donald Trump Jr. of the two together) and the National Rifle Association. Rittenhouse was given a choice that he never should have been able to have in the first place. 

Is this really the system we strive for? The democracy we flaunt and gate-keep from less developed countries? Do we really believe that George Washington would condone allowing a boy, not even graduated from high school, to hold a weapon powerful enough to take out a crowd of people in a matter of minutes?

Writing this article, I feel like a broken record swap out a few words, some names, and run this piece when the next shooting takes place. These people felt they needed assault rifles to protect private property and they condemn these protests for the violence they cause businesses and properties. 

I, in no way condone theft or arson, but I also don’t condone the invisible eye our government casts upon the African American population. After years of stagnation in the civil rights movement, the African American community needs to be heard, their lives need to be worth more to our government than guns and the right to bear arms.

 Rittenhouse made a reckless and stupid decision, there is no doubt about that, but it was a decision that our government has reinforced and enabled. Through his freedom, the message of white power is strengthened in our country, and the cycle of violence is allowed to continue.