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Sunday, November 14, 2021


Kyle Rittenhouse. He was 17 when this photo was taken. It was illegal at the time for him to buy, own, or possess the depicted assault type weapon. He had a friend buy it for him in Wisconsin (an illegal "straw purchase") and stash it for him. During his trial testimony, he said he chose it because "it looked cool."
On the evening of August 25th, 2020, he shot two people to death with it (events recorded on video by others present), and seriously wounded a third person—all during the Kenosha WI riots resulting from the earlier police shooting of Jacob Blake, which was also caught on smartphone video.
Rittenhouse has pleaded innocent to all charges, citing "self-defense," that he "reasonably feared for his life" that night. Notwithstanding that he willfully deputized and inserted himself into a dangerous, chaotic situation brimming with angry people. 
Many other armed self-appointed "militia" citizens were present in Kenosha those nights. None of them shot anyone. 
Kyle admitted on the stand that he'd told other armed participants that he was 19 and a Certified EMT. He was neither.
He has numerous supporters, who call him "a hero" and "a patriot." To others he's an immature, delusional "vigilante murderer."
His case is now scheduled to go to the jury (Nov 15th). The Wisconsin National Guard is reported to be mobilized and on standby. 
I watched most of this trial. It was a depressing, chaotic mess. Mercurial, frequently befuddled judge, and recurrently bumbling prosecutors. I had watched all 15 days of the prior George Floyd murder trial, which was extremely well conducted. What a contrast.
I really don't have a good feel for how the Rittenhouse jury will rule (and that assumes they get the case; a mistrial could still be declared by the judge, who has threatened it). I just hope no more violence ensues in the wake of this, whatever the outcome.

KENOSHA, Wis. [NBC News] — This city on Lake Michigan was quiet, calm and peaceful on Sunday, and many residents want it to remain that way as closing arguments in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse get underway Monday.
“Monday is coming, so, I mean, it’s kind of a little nervous,” said Kenosha resident Mike Lipp, 35.

Wisconsin has dispatched 500 National Guard troops, and hundreds of nearby police officers will also be available as a precaution to ensure public safety during the conclusion of the trial.

But the increased attention and the additional presence of law enforcement have taken a toll on the city, which isn’t as vibrant as it once was, said downtown resident Max Lewis.

“It’s affected the energy of the city in a negative way. It’s not the same. Everyone is trying to avoid the situation as well as keep an eye out on the situation,” Lewis said. “We’re a little dismayed by the situation. This case should have been cut and dry. You kill two people in the street, you get punished for it, end of story.”

Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with reckless homicide, intentional homicide and attempted intentional homicide after he shot two men and wounded a third during a night of protest and civil unrest in Kenosha in August 2020.

The unrest was a response to the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer after a domestic disturbance. Blake was paralyzed from the waist down…
The case is now before the jury. The one misdemeanor count (illegal possession of the AR-15 rifle) has been dropped by the judge. Five felony counts remain. If I had to place a bet, it would be acquittal on "reasonable doubt" grounds—that the defendant's "right of self-defense during deadly circumstances" prevails, however marginally.
We'll see. Declaration of "mistrial" remains a possibility in the event of intractable jury deadlock (on a count-by-count basis).

He probably walks.

As the Kyle Rittenhouse trial comes to a close, two things are becoming clear at once. First, absolutely no one should be surprised if Rittenhouse is acquitted on the most serious charges against him. And second, regardless of the outcome of the trial, the Trumpist right is wrongly creating a folk hero out of Rittenhouse. For millions he’s become a positive symbol, a young man of action who stepped up when the police (allegedly) stepped aside...
No verdict through Thursday. It is now Friday morning.


Not guilty on all counts.
“We have moved from castle doctrine protections that allow you to defend yourself in your home to laws that allow you to shoot in self-defense anywhere you feel unsafe. Once we are there—or, rather, here—your gun both protects and endangers you, because you need lethal force to protect against those who would use your own lethal force against you. The “good guy with a gun” can reasonably assume everyone else is bad, or at least could be trying to kill them. The analytical circle is complete, and that circle is closing in on us all…

The Rittenhouse jury should not be held responsible for the ways in which gun owners may be emboldened to vigilantism by the outcome of this trial. You can provoke violence and reasonably be afraid of violence at the same time. The jury should not be held responsible for the potential proliferation of armed citizens taking it upon themselves to enforce the law, or the defenses those citizens will increasingly feel entitled to use to explain their actions once things go wrong. The jury must confine itself to the facts of this case. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, is poised to ensure that in the future, juries will be asked, again and again and again, to decide how things should go when everyone had a gun, everyone else wanted to use it, everyone knew their intentions were good, but suspected everyone else was a danger. How do we act as a society when absolutely everyone is always in fear of their life? Welcome to the future. It’s already here.”
Dahlia Lithwick

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