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The Hilltop

OPINION

From the Editor: “It Looked Cool”

Joseph Rosenbaum. Anthony Huber. Gaige Grosskreutz.

Do we know their names? Or have they joined the thousands of other voiceless victims of gun violence?

Kyle Rittenhouse in the court room. Photo courtesy of Sean Krajacic for the Associated Press.

Joseph Rosenbaum. Anthony Huber. Gaige Grosskreutz. 

Do we know their names? Or have they joined the thousands of other voiceless victims of gun violence?

Kyle Rittenhouse shot each of these men on Aug. 25, 2020, at the age of 17 with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle during a night of protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake became partially paralyzed after an officer shot him seven times in the back. The county prosecutor later declined to charge the officer which resulted in a series of riots and civil unrest. 

In the midst of the disdain, Rittenhouse, amongst other armed men, ventured out to “protect” the Car Source company property. While there, Rittenhouse claims he shot three unarmed men in self-defense. 

When asked if he knew the capabilities of his weapon, Rittenhouse responded, “I knew that it could shoot and I believe from a distance, I don’t know how far; I’m not an expert on AR-15s.”

Yet, he was able to purchase the gun as a minor and openly carry it at the protest without any supervision. 

When asked why he purchased the gun, he said it was because, “It looked cool.”

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This deadly weapon wasn’t bought with the intentional purpose of protecting anyone. It wasn’t purchased to promote a patriotic spirit. It was obtained subjectively for the sole surveillance of superficial solutions created by an immature 17-year-old white boy. 

However, Rittenhouse was recently acquitted on all counts ranging from five charges, including first degree intentional homicide- use of a deadly weapon and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, in addition to failure to comply with an emergency order from state and local government. 

While two charges were dismissed by the judge, the other three resulted in non-guilty verdicts from the jury after 26 hours of deliberation. 

“I couldn’t have asked for a better jury to work with and it has truly been my pleasure,” Judge Bruce Schroeder said after delivering the verdict. “I think, without commenting on your verdict, the verdicts themselves, just in terms of your attentiveness and the cooperation that you gave to us, justifies the confidence that the founders of our country placed in you so I dismiss you at this time.”

Within minutes, the decision set the country ablaze with conversations questioning the judicial system and its moral compass. The relatives of Jacob Blake were among the first to openly comment.

“Self-defense is when you’re protecting your home, you’re protecting your family,” Justin Blake said. “He in a dastardly way used the law. There was no self-defense.This is a total mockery of what justice should be.”

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Other attorneys also shared their concerns with the broader community.

“…We’re talking about Kyle Rittenhouse, a racist, homicidal vigilante who, like so many white men before him, not only escaped accountability, but laughed in its face,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump wrote. “Today, I pray for the victims, I pray for our country, I pray for our children and grandchildren, and I pray that this travesty of a case is an outlier on our path to a more just system, and not a signal of retreat backwards. Because, we simply can’t afford it.”

But other organizations promptly disagreed.

“GOA will be awarding Kyle Rittenhouse with an AR-15 for his defense of gun rights in America,” Gun Owners of America wrote in a Friday morning tweet. “Join us in saying THANK YOU to Kyle Rittenhouse for being a warrior for gun owners and self defense rights across the country!”

Rittenhouse was also granted a behind the scenes documentary of the trial proceedings with Fox News. 

“Does he think he did anything wrong?” CNN asked Rittenhouse’s attorney Mark Richards. 

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“Legally, no,” Richards replied.

As a Black person in America, our rights are used to prove us wrong. We die slow and painful deaths lawfully, either physically or in spirit. We are left to rot in jails and prison cells long after the courtroom has forgotten our name and cries of innocence. 

Yet, this guilty white boy who shot three men in a crowd full of people is able to happily walk free. 

Dead bodies lying in the street are not cool. Neither are murderers left unconvicted. 

Copy edited by Jasper Smith

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