By: McKinley Franklin
18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse is currently on trial for the killing of two men and wounding of another. Rittenhouse’s shooting occurred on the night of August 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin at protests that occurred following the police shooting of Black man Jacob Blake. On the night of the shooting, Rittenhouse shot at a total of four people, resulting in two fatalities and one wounding. Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber were killed, and Gaige Grosskreutz was wounded.
Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and first-degree attempted homicide. The prosecution seeks out to show that Rittenhouse’s acts were uncontrolled and criminal, whereas the defense argues that he was acting in self-defense.
Let’s recount the night of August 25, 2020:
Prior to the night of Rittenhouse’s killings, Kenosha had endured two nights of protests concerning the shooting of a local Black man, Jacob Blake. The protests were referred to as chaotic, and police were using rubber bullets and tear gas to “control” crowds.
At around 10 pm on the night of the killings, Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, held an AR-15-style rifle outside of a used-car dealership with other armed men. While testifying, Rittenhouse said that he was asked to help guard the dealership to prevent looting and arson. He also testified that he had a medical kit with him and that his goal was to help anyone who may become injured that night.
During his testimony, Rittenhouse states that Rosenbaum threatened his life twice this night, and that he eventually ambushed him. Rittenhouse says that he tried to run from him, and that Rosenbaum threw a bag at him that he mistook for a chain. Then, Rittenhouse aimed the rifle at Rosenbaum, and Rosenbaum proceeded towards him, Rittenhouse also testifying that Rosenbaum grabbed his gun. Rittenhouse states that he then heard a gunshot behind him, and then fired four times at Rosenbaum, killing him.
After fleeing the scene of the Rosenbaum shooting, a crowd followed him, and he began to get hit with a skateboard by Huber and had rocks thrown at him. This caused him to fall to the ground, and Huber hit him with the skateboard again. Again, Rittenhouse states that Huber grabbed his gun and even “felt the strap coming off [his] body,” and he proceeded to fire a shot, killing Huber.
Grosskreutz, also armed, then ran up to Rittenhouse, with his hands raised in a “surrender” position. Grosskreutz continued to proceed towards Rittenhouse, and he fired a shot towards him, hitting him in the arm. Rittenhouse testifies that Grosskreutz was pointing the pistol towards his head before he shot.
After the shootings, Rittenhouse testified that he approached police with his hands up, but they ordered him to get out of the way and go home. Rittenhouse then turned himself in at the Antioch Police Department an hour after these events.
The murder trial has drawn in a great amount of attention, for numerous reasons. Most recently Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is overseeing the case, made an inappropriate joke regarding Asian food. As the court was prepping to take a lunch break on November 11, 2021, the judge stated, “I hope the Asian food isn’t coming… isn’t on one of those boats from Long Beach Harbor.” Schroeder’s comment seems to refer to the supply chain backlogs that have stemmed from overcrowding problems in California ports. John Yang, president, and executive director of AAJC says that the judge’s comment “harms our community and puts us in the crosshairs of micro aggressions as well as physical violence.”
Schroeder’s insensitive comment comes only a week after a juror in this trial was dismissed over another inconsiderate joke. This time, the juror made a joke concerning the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the shooting that ultimately has direct correlation to the Rittenhouse trial. Schroeder summarizes “what he remembers” about the comment the juror made, stating that, “He was telling a joke … he made a reference about telling a joke about ‘Why did it take seven shots to shoot Jacob Blake,’ something to that effect.” Prosecutors argued that the comment alludes to racial bias, and both the defense and prosecution agreed to dismiss the juror. In response to the dismissal of the juror, Schroeder stated that, “It is clear that the appearance to bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case.”
The jury of eight men and 10 women were reduced to 12 by a drawing of names. More on the final status of the case HERE.