Kenosha unrest shooting

Kenosha unrest shooting
Date August 25, 2020
Time 11:49–11:59 p.m. (CDT)
Location Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.
Coordinates 42°34′49″N 87°49′17″W / 42.58028°N 87.82139°W / 42.58028; -87.82139Coordinates: 42°34′49″N 87°49′17″W / 42.58028°N 87.82139°W / 42.58028; -87.82139
Deaths 2
Non-fatal injuries 1
Accused Kyle Howard Rittenhouse
Charges First-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and first-degree recklessly endangering safety (2 counts)
Verdict Not guilty on all charges

On August 25, 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, fatally shot two men and wounded another in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The shootings occurred during the protests, riots, and civil unrest that followed the non-fatal shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer. Rittenhouse and the three men he shot were white. At trial, Rittenhouse used the affirmative defense of self-defense and was acquitted of all charges. Rittenhouse was armed with a semi-automatic, AR-15 style rifle, and had joined a group of armed men in Kenosha who stated that they were in Kenosha to protect businesses.[1][2]

Joseph Rosenbaum, a 36-year-old unarmed Kenosha man, chased Rittenhouse into a parking lot, and was fatally shot four times at close range.[3][4][5] Rittenhouse fled and was pursued by a crowd.[1] Anthony Huber, a 26-year-old-resident of Silver Lake, struck Rittenhouse with his skateboard and was fatally shot once in the chest by Rittenhouse.[6][7] Gaige Grosskreutz, a then-26-year-old West Allis man armed with a handgun, was shot by Rittenhouse once in the right arm and survived.[6][8][9]

Rittenhouse was charged with two counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide, two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm, and one count of curfew violation. During his trial from November 1 to 19, 2021, his lawyer argued his actions were self-defense. Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the unlawful possession charge and the curfew violation charge for being legally unsupported,[10][11] and a unanimous jury found Rittenhouse not guilty of the remaining charges.[12]

Public sentiment of the shootings was polarized and media coverage both polarized and politicized.[13] Multiple right-wing politicians and figures welcomed Rittenhouse's acquittal, stating that the shootings were self-defense, while President Joe Biden called for the jury's verdict to be respected.[14][15] Multiple left-wing politicians and figures criticized the verdict as a miscarriage of justice, saying that the acquittal was emblematic of racial double standards in the American justice system.[16][17][18] Gun control advocates proclaimed fears that the verdict would embolden vigilantism.[19][14] An Economist/YouGov poll conducted during the trial found that two-thirds of Republicans thought Rittenhouse should be acquitted, while three-quarters of Democrats thought he should be convicted.[20]

Background

On August 23, 2020, protests erupted in Kenosha after the shooting of Jacob Blake, an African-American man who was shot seven times (and hit four times) by a Kenosha police officer and became paralyzed from the waist down.[21][22][23][24][25] Following a resurgence in protests that were part of the Black Lives Matter movement after other high-profile killings of African-Americans by police officers in 2020, the protests in Kenosha included rallies, marches, property damage, arson, and clashes with police between August 23 and September 1.[26]

On August 25, former Kenosha alderman Kevin Mathewson put out a call on the Facebook page of the Kenosha Guard militia group for "patriots willing to take up arms and defend" Kenosha.[27] Mathewson had previously formed the Kenosha Guard in response to the George Floyd protests earlier that year.[28][27] The event post, titled "Armed Citizens to Protect our Lives and Property," was picked up and redistributed by InfoWars.[29] It received a national and international online response,[28] attracting a larger number of armed men than were present at other protests in Wisconsin that summer.[30] Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian and County Sheriff David Beth expressed their disapproval of armed civilians patrolling the streets,[31] while some Wisconsin police officers were seen in a video giving them water and heard saying, "We appreciate you guys, we really do."[32]

At the time of the shooting, Kyle Rittenhouse was a 17-year-old resident of Antioch, Illinois, a community located about 20 miles from Kenosha by road.[24][33][34] Prior to the Kenosha unrest, he had participated in local police cadet programs and expressed support on social media for the Blue Lives Matter movement and law enforcement.[35][33][36] Three months prior to the shooting,[37] Rittenhouse's friend, Dominick Black, purchased a semi-automatic,[38] AR-15 style rifle[33] as a favor for him in Wisconsin since Rittenhouse was too young to purchase a gun.[39][40] Black's stepfather kept the gun stored in a locked safe at his home in Kenosha but had relocated the weapon to an unsecured area in the basement on August 24,[41] the second day of the Kenosha unrest, in case of a break in.[42][43]

Sequence of events

Before the shooting

During the day of August 25, peaceful[44][45] protests in Kenosha were followed by chaos where demonstrators, armed civilians and others faced off against one another and the police at night.[44][45] After the city suffered building and vehicle damage the preceding day,[46] social media had drawn locals and outsiders, left-wing activists and right-wing militia into the city streets despite an evening curfew imposed on citizens.[28] Some 250 National Guard members were deployed to the city.[46] Militia that included Boogaloo boys[47][28] and a biker crew carrying "hatchets, ball bats, and firearms"[28] accumulated near two gas stations south of Car Source, an automotive business with three properties (a dealership, a used car lot, and another car lot to the South), which had been badly damaged during the first two nights of unrest.[28][48] Car Source had suffered $1.5 million in arson damage the previous night.[48][49] The shootings took place shortly before midnight along Sheridan Road in Kenosha after protesters were moved out of Civic Center Park following clashes with law enforcement.[50] Police in armored vehicles drove protesters south away from the courthouse and Civic Center Park.[51]

On August 24, Rittenhouse drove to Kenosha to stay with his friend Dominick Black.[52][41] The following day, August 25, Rittenhouse helped clean graffiti off a school.[53] Later, Rittenhouse and Black, both armed with rifles, arrived at Car Source.[54][55] Accounts differ as to whether Rittenhouse and Black's help was requested by Car Source. The dealership owner's sons denied that gunmen had been asked to defend the business,[56][57] but several witnesses testified that armed individuals had been directly sought out by the business to protect their property.[56]

In the hours leading up to the shooting, Rittenhouse appeared in multiple videos taken by protesters and bystanders and was interviewed twice: first by a livestreamer at the car dealership where he and a number of other armed men had stationed themselves, second by Richie McGinniss, a reporter for The Daily Caller.[44] Rittenhouse was seen talking with police officers,[44][58] and offering medical aid to those who were injured.[44] When McGinniss asked Rittenhouse why he was at the car dealership, he responded: "People are getting injured and our job is to protect this business, [...] [a]nd part of my job is to also help people. If there is somebody hurt, I'm running into harm's way. That's why I have my rifle – because I can protect myself, obviously. But I also have my med kit."[59]

Police, using BearCat armored personnel carriers, began to drive the protesters south out of Civic Center Park two hours after the 8:00 pm curfew had ended.[60][28] After 10:00 pm, Rittenhouse alternated between standing guard at the dealership and walking the street offering medical attention.[60] Rittenhouse left Car Source around 11:40 pm and was blocked from returning to the business by the BearCats.[60][44] Rittenhouse headed to the Car Source lot farthest to the South.[28]

First confrontation

Locations of shootings[61]
1
Shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum
2
Shooting of Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz

Part of the first confrontation between Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum was witnessed by McGinniss, whose perception was that Rosenbaum and other protesters were moving toward Rittenhouse, who was trying to evade them.[62][63] Video footage showed Rittenhouse being pursued across a parking lot by a group of people.[64][44] Rosenbaum threw a plastic bag containing socks, underwear, and deodorant at Rittenhouse.[62][24][65] Joshua Ziminski fired a shot into the air.[66][28] Rittenhouse stopped running and turned towards the sound of the shot.[44] Rittenhouse testified at trial that prior to being chased by Rosenbaum, he heard another man tell Rosenbaum to "get him and kill him," but also knew that Rosenbaum was unarmed. Rittenhouse testified that he aimed his gun at Rosenbaum to deter him from pursuing him further.[67]

Witnesses for the prosecution testified at trial that Rosenbaum engaged Rittenhouse and tried to take his rifle from him. At 11:48 pm Rittenhouse fired four shots at Rosenbaum, killing him.[68][69][6][70] The bullets perforated Rosenbaum's heart, aorta, pulmonary artery and right lung, fractured his pelvis, and caused minor wounds to his left thigh and forehead.[71][72] McGinniss, who had been standing fifteen feet away and felt one of the bullets whiz by his leg, checked himself before he began to administer first aid to Rosenbaum and told Rittenhouse to call 911.[73] Rittenhouse stood over McGinniss for half of a minute before fleeing,[24] and was heard saying "I just killed somebody" on his cell phone to his friend Dominick Black as he sprinted out of the parking lot where he had shot Rosenbaum.[69][24][74] Rittenhouse then ran down the street towards police vehicles[24] pursued by a few protesters.[51]

Second confrontation

Gaige Grosskreutz testified that he was filming the protest as a legal observer for the American Civil Liberties Union on a Facebook livestream. Shortly before midnight Grosskreutz said he heard gunshots to the south and observed Rittenhouse running in his direction[75] on Sheridan Road.[76] Grosskreutz said he ran alongside Rittenhouse and asked "Hey, what are you doing. You shot somebody?"[75]

Prosecutors said that protesters were heard on two different videos yelling "Beat him up!", "Hey, he shot him!" and "Get him! Get that dude!"[62] One individual struck Rittenhouse, knocking off his cap,[77] shortly after which Rittenhouse tripped and fell to the ground.[51] Others shouted "What'd he do?", "Just shot someone!" and "Get his ass!"[62] While he was on the ground, one of the men in pursuit jump kicked Rittenhouse, who fired twice but missed the man.[24][78]

A roadblock pays tribute to Anthony Huber on the road on which he was killed

Another protester, Anthony Huber, made contact with Rittenhouse's left shoulder, neck and head with a skateboard as the pair struggled for control of the gun.[79][62][6][80] As Huber was pulling on the rifle, Rittenhouse fired once, hitting Huber in the chest, perforating his heart and right lung, causing his rapid death.[62][81]

Grosskreutz testified he believed Rittenhouse was an active shooter.[82][83] Grosskreutz had an expired concealed carry permit for a handgun and was carrying a Glock pistol.[82][84] Grosskreutz approached Rittenhouse, who was on the ground, but stopped and put his hands up after Huber was shot. Grosskreutz then pointed his handgun and advanced on Rittenhouse, who shot Grosskreutz once in the arm, severing most of the biceps of his right arm.[6][85][84]

At least 16 gunshots from other sources were heard on video during the time that Rittenhouse was on the ground.[44]

After the shooting

Rittenhouse got back to his feet and walked towards police with his hands up and the rifle strapped across his chest.[44] Several police officers testified during the trial that they were responding to an active shooter incident and did not recognize that Rittenhouse was the shooter.[86] He was repeatedly told to get out of the road, and when he continued to advance, one officer attempted to pepper-spray him.[86][87][88] Several witnesses and protesters had shouted for Rittenhouse to be arrested.[64][89] When asked at a press conference why Rittenhouse was not stopped, Kenosha Sheriff David Beth said, "In situations that are high-stress, you have such incredible tunnel vision" and implied officers may not have realized he had been involved in the shooting.[90] Likewise, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said that "there was nothing to suggest this individual was involved in any criminal behavior" due to the fact that someone walking towards the police with their hands up was "no longer abnormal" in the wake of the protests.[91]

Video clips from Kenosha immediately went viral after the shooting.[24] Facebook, criticized for allowing militia groups to post solicitations for armed attendees and for failing to respond to several hundred complaints, removed the Kenosha Guard's post and classified the event as a mass shooting.[92][47] On August 29, the legal team for Rittenhouse released a statement asserting that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense[62] and was wrongly arrested.[93] President Donald Trump visited Kenosha on September 1.[94] On September 22, Rittenhouse's defense team released an 11-minute narrated video of the night, consisting of quick cuts between various angles. The video contended that several shots were fired before and after the shooting of Rosenbaum, and that Rosenbaum may have started chasing Rittenhouse because he mistook him for a man with whom he had a dispute earlier.[95]

Detention and release

Rittenhouse turned himself in to police in his home town of Antioch, Illinois about an hour after the shootings in Kenosha[96][97][98] and was held in a juvenile facility in Illinois[99] until he was extradited to Wisconsin on October 30, 2020.[100][101] He was released from detention on November 20, after posting $2 million bail.[102][103]

On January 22, 2021, the conditions of Rittenhouse's release were changed so that he could not consume alcohol, have access to firearms, or associate with persons or groups known to be a threat to others based on race or religion.[104] These changes were made after Rittenhouse was seen on January 5[105] at a bar with his mother in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin, drinking beers and posing for pictures alongside five men who sang "Proud of Your Boy", a song used by members of the far-right Proud Boys political organization. In one photo with two of them, Rittenhouse flashed an "OK" sign, a hand gesture allegedly used by white supremacists.[106][107][108]

On February 11, judge Bruce Schroeder denied a request by prosecutors for a $200,000 increase in Rittenhouse's bond,[109] after Rittenhouse failed to file an address change within 48 hours of moving,[110] stating that people out on bail often fail to update their address.[111] Rittenhouse's attorney said that Rittenhouse had been staying at an undisclosed address out of concern for his safety.[112]

Rittenhouse trial

The trial for Rittenhouse took place from November 1 to 19, 2021 in Kenosha County Circuit Court.[113] Jury selection on November 1 resulted in a 20-person panel of 12 jurors and eight alternates.[114] The jury heard testimony from over 30 witnesses[115] and viewed more than a dozen videos taken on the night of the shooting.[116]

Charges

Under Wisconsin state law, Rittenhouse was charged as an adult with the following crimes:[117]

  • first-degree reckless homicide, punishable by imprisonment of up to 65 years (for killing Joseph Rosenbaum)
  • first-degree intentional homicide, punishable by a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole (for killing Anthony Huber)
  • attempted first-degree intentional homicide, punishable by imprisonment of up to 65 years (for shooting and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz)
  • first-degree recklessly endangering safety (two counts), punishable by imprisonment of up to 17 years and six months per count, one count for endangering Richard McGinnis and one count firing two shots that missed at a man who jump kicked Rittenhouse
  • possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, punishable by imprisonment of up to nine months (dismissed when the judge ruled that the age limit in connection with carrying a rifle was 16, not 18)
  • failure to comply with an emergency order from state or local government, punishable by a fine of up to $200 (for breaking the 8 p.m. Kenosha curfew, dismissed)

Each felony charge's maximum imprisonment included a "use of a dangerous weapon" modifier,[118] which invokes a Wisconsin law that prescribes an addition of no more than five years of imprisonment.[119] The gun used in the shootings was identified as a Smith & Wesson M&P15 chambered in .223[118] Dominick Black gave the gun to Rittenhouse hours before the shootings, and Black had allegedly purchased the gun with cash that Rittenhouse paid him.[120][121]

Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty to all charges on January 5, 2021.[122]

Pretrial rulings

At a hearing on September 17, 2021, Schroeder denied prosecutors' requests to admit Rittenhouse's meeting with Proud Boys members and a previous fight that he was involved in as evidence in the case, finding that the incidents were "too dissimilar" to the shooting.[123] Schroeder also denied the defense's request to admit evidence of Rosenbaum's prior criminal record as a sex offender.[124][125] On October 25, Schroeder defined what testimony would or would not be admissible by both the defense and the prosecution.[126] Schroeder ordered that the men shot by Rittenhouse could not be referred to as victims, but determined they could be described as arsonists or looters if the defense was able to establish evidence that Rosenbaum, Huber, or Grosskreutz were engaged in those activities that night.[127][128] Legal experts stated that saying that the term "victim" can appear prejudicial in a court of law, which would heavily influence a jury by presupposing who is innocent and guilty.[128]

Arguments and testimonies

Trial arguments and testimonies took place between November 2 and 15, 2021, in Kenosha County Courthouse. After opening arguments, jurors were shown multiple video recordings of the events. Video footage recorded shortly before the shooting showed Rosenbaum shouting "Shoot me, nigger!" at an armed man who pointed a gun at him.[129][130] Two witnesses testified having seen Rosenbaum yelling and behaving violently before approaching Rittenhouse and trying to take his rifle. A former marine testified that Rosenbaum had taunted him and other armed men before the shootings but said he did not consider Rosenbaum a threat.[131] A witness who had spoken with Rittenhouse after the shooting recalled a nervous, pale, and sweating Rittenhouse as repeatedly saying "I just shot someone."[131] The prosecution questioned why Rittenhouse would feel threatened while holding a rifle, and described him as an armed threat.[132]

On November 8, Grosskreutz, an armed paramedic, testified that he "thought the defendant was active shooter"[133] and said "I thought I was going to die."[84] Grosskreutz, who videos show putting his hands in the air when standing a few feet from Rittenhouse, testified that he then saw Rittenhouse re-rack his rifle.[133] Grosskreutz said that "meant that the defendant pulled the trigger while my hands were in the air, but the gun didn't fire, so by reracking the weapon I inferred the defendant wasn't accepting my surrender."[133] Grosskreutz testified that he decided to "close the distance" to Rittenhouse, to employ "non-lethal" methods of either wrestling the gun away from or detaining Rittenhouse. He further testified that he sought to preserve his own life but was "never trying to kill" Rittenhouse,[134] and that as he moved closer to Rittenhouse, unintentionally pointing his handgun at him, Rittenhouse shot him.[84]

On November 10, prosecution witness Ryan Balch, a military veteran who also carried an AR-style rifle that night, recalled Rosenbaum shouting "If I catch any of you guys alone tonight I'm going to fucking kill you!"[135][136] Rittenhouse took the stand and testified that Rosenbaum threatened to kill him twice and ambushed him before the fatal shooting. Rittenhouse broke down on recounting those events, and the judge ordered a recess. Afterward, Rittenhouse said that Rosenbaum charged at him, putting his hand on Rittenhouse's gun barrel. In cross-examination, Rittenhouse acknowledged using deadly force to stop the attack on him, while also saying that killing was not his intent.[131]

Judge Schroder ruled on November 12 that the jury could consider whether or not Rittenhouse provoked the attacks that unfolded.[4]

The defense made several requests for a mistrial[137] that included a motion for a mistrial with prejudice using the argument that there was "prosecutorial overreaching" and that the state acted "in bad faith."[138] The defense later requested a mistrial without prejudice due to a dispute over drone video used in the trial. Defense attorneys stated that the version provided to them by the prosecution was in a lower resolution and different aspect ratio than the version presented by the state, in violation of rules of evidence and the right of defendants to confront their accuser.[139] The judge, who sparred with prosecutor Thomas Binger on several occasions, had accused Binger of a violation of the right to silence guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment after Binger alleged Rittenhouse deliberately refrained from commenting on the case in order to fit his testimony in response to witnesses' accounts once at trial.[137] The defense also requested a mistrial over Binger's mention of video footage showing Rittenhouse express a willingness to shoot suspected shoplifters, which angered Schroeder who had ruled the material was neither related nor allowed at trial.[137]

On November 18, Schroeder banned MSNBC and affiliates from the courthouse for the remainder of the trial after Kenosha police observed that a car driven by an MSNBC producer had followed the jury bus and ran a red light.[140][141] The driver, detained on suspicion of photographing jurors, was issued traffic citations and released by police after they failed to find pictures of jurors.[141] NBC News denied their affiliated driver had intended to photograph or contact jurors during deliberations.[142]

Verdict

After the prosecution rested its case, the judge dismissed a charge of curfew violation against Rittenhouse, citing a lack of evidence offered by the prosecution;[10] the charge of unlawful possession of a firearm was also dismissed, based on the defense argument that the Wisconsin law only restricted minors from carrying rifles if they are short-barreled. The barrel of Rittenhouse's rifle was longer than 16 inches, the minimum barrel length allowed under state law.[11][143]

The jury reached a unanimous verdict on all other charges after more than 25 hours of deliberations spanning four days,[144][145] finding Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts.[146][147][148]

Other litigation

Criminal charges

Black was charged with two felony counts of intentionally giving a dangerous weapon to a minor, resulting in death, for supplying Rittenhouse with the rifle used to kill Rosenbaum and Huber.[149][150] Bond was set at $2,500.[151] Black pleaded not guilty to the charges.[150] On January 8, 2022, Black pleaded no contest to a non-criminal citation, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, as part of a plea deal in which prosecutors agreed to drop the two felony charges.[152]

Ziminski was charged with disorderly conduct using a dangerous weapon, obstructing an officer, and arson of property other than a building. He pled not guilty to the charges, but admitted to firing a shot in the air before Rittenhouse killed Rosenbaum.[66][153]

Civil litigation

A lawsuit was filed in September 2020 by plaintiffs including the partner of Anthony Huber, seeking damages from Rittenhouse, Facebook, the far-right group Boogaloo Bois, and the Kenosha Guard militia and its commander. The suit alleged negligence on the part of Facebook in allowing the Kenosha Guard to call for militia members on its platform and alleged that the defendants had participated in a conspiracy to violate their civil rights. The suit was withdrawn by the plaintiffs without comment and dismissed with prejudice in the last week of January 2021.[154]

On January 4, 2021, Huber's parents and Gaige Grosskreutz each filed $10 million claim notices, against both the city and county, alleging negligence due to inaction in protecting their rights.[155]

On August 17, 2021, Huber's parents filed a lawsuit in federal court[156] against the Kenosha Police Department and Kenosha County Sheriff's Department, claiming that law enforcement allowed Rittenhouse to harm people peacefully protesting against the police shooting of Jacob Blake.[157]

Grosskreutz filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of Wisconsin on October 14, 2021, alleging that Kenosha law enforcement officials, including the Kenosha Police Department and the Kenosha Sheriff's office, had coordinated with and encouraged the participation of armed militias, depriving protestors of their constitutional right to freedom of speech.[158][159] The lawsuit alleges that police enabled the violence by allowing militia to patrol the streets, then funneled protestors toward the armed citizens, telling militia members to take care of the protesters.[160]

Responses

A man holds a "Free Kyle" sign near Bradford High School during President Donald Trump's visit on September 1, 2020.

Public sentiment regarding the shootings was polarized. Coverage was both critical and supportive of Rittenhouse's actions, and used terms such as "vigilante" and "terrorist", but also "volunteer" and "maintaining peace" to describe him.[13]

Writing for the American Bar Association Journal, Matt Reynolds observed that the "scenes in Wisconsin illustrated a tension between the Second Amendment right to bear arms and the First Amendment right to peacefully protest."[161]

An Economist/YouGov poll conducted with 1,500 adult Americans between November 14–16 found that Black Americans overwhelmingly thought Rittenhouse should be found guilty of homicide while White Americans were closely divided.[162]

Snopes tracked Facebook accounts they considered unusual and determined that "foreign-run Facebook accounts celebrated the Rittenhouse verdict." Facebook removed the accounts following the report.[163]

Criticism of the police

Many commentators were critical of the fact that Rittenhouse was not immediately arrested despite witnesses shouting that he was the shooter.[64][164][165] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called for the resignations of Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis and of Kenosha Sheriff David Beth. The ACLU statement argued that Beth's deputies fraternized with "white supremacist counter-protesters" during the day of the shooting and did not arrest the shooter. The statement attacked Miskinis for blaming those shot in the course of the shooting when he said that the violence was the result of the "persons" involved violating curfew.[166] The Kenosha mayor stated that he would not ask the sheriff or police chief to resign.[167]

Responses by authorities

NBC News obtained a Department of Homeland Security internal document and reported that it directed federal law enforcement officials to make specific statements regarding Rittenhouse, such as noting that he "took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners" and that "[Rittenhouse] is innocent until proven guilty and deserves a fair trial based on all the facts, not just the ones that support a certain narrative."[168]

Responses by Internet companies

Several internet compaines including Facebook, Twitter and GoFundMe restricted content related to Rittenhouse and the shooting.[169] Two days after the shooting,[169] Facebook removed content supporting Rittenhouse, citing rules banning praise or support of mass shooters or glorification of violence.[170] Facebook further disabled searches for "Kyle Rittenhouse", with a spokesperson saying "We've designated this shooting as a mass murder and have removed the shooter's accounts from Facebook and Instagram".[171] Shortly after the trial ended, Facebook lifted their ban.[172] An online merchandise store run by Rittenhouse's family to fundraise for legal expenses was deplatformed twice, once by an unnamed vendor and again by Printify, the latter of whom stated "we don't want to be affiliated with a story that's involved in such a complex, controversial and ongoing case."[173] GoFundMe, who banned the Rittenhouse defense fund because he was accused of a violent crime, lifted their ban after Rittenhouse was acquitted.[174]

Politicians

In public comments six days after the shooting,[175] then-President Donald Trump showed support for the idea that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense, saying "He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like," noting the incident was under investigation and "I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed."[94][176] The former president later described the trial as a "witch hunt from the Radical Left", and praised the not guilty verdict from the jury.[14]

Other conservative politicians have also lauded its decision,[20] and Rittenhouse's figure was described as being a cause célèbre for the political right.[177][178] Ron Johnson, the Republican senator from Wisconsin, said that "justice has been served" with the verdict and called to acknowledge the ruling.[179] Ted Cruz, U.S. senator from Texas, and Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey, also praised the ruling, with the latter saying that the verdict "renews our faith in the jury system".[177] Three U.S. representatives, Paul Gosar from Arizona, Madison Cawthorn from North Carolina and Matt Gaetz from Florida, offered internships in their offices to Rittenhouse; with Cawthorn stating after the not guilty verdict: "You have a right to defend yourself, so be armed, be dangerous and be moral".[180][181]

On September 30, 2020, a month after the shootings, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden shared a post on Twitter criticizing Donald Trump for not condemning white supremacists that included a video with an image of Rittenhouse.[182][183] Conservatives and right-wing politicians called upon Biden to apologize to Rittenhouse.[14] After the November 19, 2021 verdict, Biden stated "I stand by what the jury has concluded. The jury system works and we have to abide by it."[182] The White House issued a written statement saying "While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken[...]."[184][185][186]

Wisconsin governor Tony Evers said in a statement that "No verdict will be able to bring back the lives of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, or heal Gaige Grosskreutz's injuries, just as no verdict can heal the wounds or trauma experienced by Jacob Blake and his family. No ruling today changes our reality in Wisconsin that we have work to do toward equity, accountability, and justice that communities across our state are demanding and deserve."[186]

Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker said, "carrying a loaded gun into a community 20 miles from your home and shooting unarmed citizens is fundamentally wrong. It's a tragedy that the court could not acknowledge that basic fact."[187] Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged the verdict and added that "no one should ever take the law into their own hands, or attempt to make themselves the judge, jury, and executioner. What Kyle Rittenhouse did was reckless, dangerous, and showed an utter disregard for human life."[187]

New York's representative Jerry Nadler, who also serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the ruling was a miscarriage of justice and that the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) should intervene.[17] In response to the verdict, U.S. representative from Michigan Rashida Tlaib said that the American justice system "protects white supremacy".[16][17] Gun control advocates and California governor Gavin Newsom expressed concern that the verdict would encourage others to engage in vigilantism.[177][188]

Actions after the verdict

People protested the Rittenhouse verdict in multiple large cities in the United States. In Portland, 200 protestors gathered in the downtown area. Authorities declared a riot after protestors broke windows and doors and also attacked police. In Chicago, 1,000 protestors marched against the verdict. In Raleigh, North Carolina, people protested in front of the state Capitol Building.[189] Peaceful protests occurred in Brooklyn, New York, where protestors blocked lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge.[190] In Middle Village, Queens, New York, protestors damaged vehicles and ripped up flags. Five people were arrested.[191] In California, protesters assembled in Oakland, San Diego, and Los Angeles.[192]

Kyle Rittenhouse at AmericaFest 2021, following the verdict

After the acquittal, Rittenhouse was interviewed by Tucker Carlson from Fox News.[193] Against the advice of Rittenhouse's attorneys, a film crew for Carlson and Fox Nation followed him during the trial for a documentary feature.[194] Rittenhouse made a number of public appearances on conservative programs and at associated events,[195] including a Turning Point USA event titled AmericaFest.[196][197]

References

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  2. ^ Levenson, Eric. "Friend who bought gun for Kyle Rittenhouse says the teen was 'freaking out,' pale and sweaty after Kenosha shootings". CNN. Archived from the original on November 22, 2021. Retrieved November 24, 2021.
  3. ^ Levenson, Eric; Parks, Brad; Hassan, Carma. "Kyle Rittenhouse testifies he knew Joseph Rosenbaum was unarmed but acted in self-defense during fatal shooting". CNN. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Layne, Nathan (November 13, 2021). "U.S. judge in Rittenhouse trial says jury can consider teen provoked attack". Reuters. Archived from the original on November 13, 2021. Retrieved November 14, 2021.
  5. ^ Bauer, Scott; Webber, Tammy; Forliti, Amy; Tarm, Michael (November 9, 2021). "Pathologist: Rittenhouse shot first man at close range". AP News. Archived from the original on November 10, 2021. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Victims of shooting during Kenosha protests engaged gunman". Associated Press. August 28, 2020. Archived from the original on August 29, 2020. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
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