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US Was the Kyle Rittenhouse Trial About Race, the Second Amendment or Neither?

19:16  20 november  2021
19:16  20 november  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

EXPLAINER: Could jury weigh lesser charges for Rittenhouse?

  EXPLAINER: Could jury weigh lesser charges for Rittenhouse? MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors in Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial could ask the jury to consider lesser charges when it gets the case, a move that could secure a conviction for some crime but take a possible life sentence off the table. Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger has struggled to counter Rittenhouse's self-defense arguments during the Illinois man's trial, raising questions about whether his office overcharged Rittenhouse. Daniel Adams, a former Milwaukee County assistant district attorney who isn't involved in the trial, described Binger's case as “incredibly underwhelming.”“He's got nothing,” Adams said.

Kyle Rittenhouse enters the courtroom to hear the verdicts in his trial prior to being found not guilty on all counts at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 19, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. © Sean Krajacic/Getty Kyle Rittenhouse enters the courtroom to hear the verdicts in his trial prior to being found not guilty on all counts at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 19, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The verdict in the highly politicized Kyle Rittenhouse trial erupted into a free-for-all as racial justice, gun control and gun rights advocates all tried to claim the jury's decision as a way to push their respective causes.

The events leading up to the shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 25, 2020—when Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and injured a third—were heavily intertwined with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which swept the nation in the wake of George Floyd's death and regained momentum following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Story Explained

  The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Story Explained The case surrounding the 18-year-old has sparked frequent debate since the shootings took place in Kenosha in August 2020.After two weeks of testimony, the defense and prosecution will outline their arguments surrounding the 18-year-old for the final time to the jury at Kenosha County Circuit court.

As racial justice protesters poured into Kenosha to call for police reform after Blake was shot seven times by a white officer, others traveled to the small Wisconsin city to protect local businesses that were set ablaze and looted amid the unrest. Among these so-called vigilantes was the then-17-year-old Rittenhouse.

After the night turned deadly, many activists contrasted the treatment of Rittenhouse—both that evening and in the year-and-a-half that followed—to Black Americans, like Blake, and BLM protesters, who were being shot and tear gassed by police officers that same summer.

In the months after the Kenosha shootings, Rittenhouse's delayed arrest and pictures of the teen flashing white power signs while on bail became subject to backlash from critics who argued none of these incidents would be permitted if it was a Black teen who traveled across state lines with an AR-15 and shot people dead.

Rittenhouse case raises question: What makes a fair trial?

  Rittenhouse case raises question: What makes a fair trial? MADISON, Wis. (AP) — At one point, the 18-year-old murder defendant stood behind the seated, black-robed judge and peered over him to review evidence. At another, on Veterans Day, the judge led the jury and others in the courtroom in applause for veterans just as a defense witness who had served in the Army was about to testify. And as the case neared its conclusion, the judge permitted the defendant to draw numbers from a raffle drum to determine which jurors would serve as alternates — creating the appearance, however small, that the defendant was helping to administer his own trial.

"Kyle Rittenhouse's trial served as a prime example of the tragically disparate treatment between Black and white Americans," NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson told Newsweek. "Rittenhouse's decision to go to Kenosha and provoke protestors was unwarranted, dangerous, and some have said rises to domestic terrorism."

When the jury in Rittenhouse's case acquitted him on all charges, racial justice activists saw it as a confirmation that there are "two justice systems at work in America."

"From the outset, this case has pulled back the curtain on the profound cracks in our justice system—from the deep bias routinely and unabashedly displayed by the judge, to the apathy of officers who witnessed Rittenhouse's crimes and did nothing," civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a Friday statement. "If we were talking about a Black man, the conversation and outcome would be starkly different."

Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Jury still deliberating verdict as judge considers mistrial over drone video

  Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Jury still deliberating verdict as judge considers mistrial over drone video Jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial were to deliberate for a third day while the judge considers a request from the defense for a mistrial. Your browser does not support this video A key piece of evidence in the prosecution's case — a drone video that shows Rittenhouse fatally shooting the first man he fired at on the night of Aug. 25, 2020 — was called into question Wednesday when Rittenhouse's defense lawyers said they received a lower quality version of the clip.

Over the course of three-and-a-half-days, as the jury deliberated, BLM protesters and supporters of Rittenhouse returned day after day in anticipation of a verdict that would deliver each group what they believed to be justice.

While some members of opposing sides were seen sharing pizza and remaining peaceful, others were seen clashing loudly outside the courthouse.

Those who attended in support of the defendant were not there to argue against the BLM activists' calls for racial equality, but to defend their constitutional right to bear arms.

And so the not guilty verdict also became a rallying call for both aisles of the gun debate.

Gun rights groups saw it as proof that the nation believes the Second Amendment should prevail, while gun control advocates proclaimed that it sent a "troubling message" to the nation.

Demonstrators with opposing views gather outside of the Kenosha County Courthouse as the jury deliberates in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse on November 16, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Scott Olson/Getty © Scott Olson/Getty Demonstrators with opposing views gather outside of the Kenosha County Courthouse as the jury deliberates in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse on November 16, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Scott Olson/Getty

Because Rittenhouse contended that he acted in self-defense that night, the right to bear arms emerged as a central talking point in the case.

Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty of All Charges in Fatal Shooting of 2 Men At Black Lives Matter Protest

  Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty of All Charges in Fatal Shooting of 2 Men At Black Lives Matter Protest Kyle Rittenhouse, then 17, was accused of homicide for using an AR-style rifle to kill two people during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, Wisc., last yearJurors embraced the claim that Kyle Rittenhouse was defending himself when he fatally shot two men and injured a third last year, clearing him of homicide Friday along with all related charges that included recklessly brandishing a dangerous weapon during a Black Lives Matter protest over police brutality in Kenosha, Wisc.

Friday's verdict implied that the jury unanimously agreed that Rittenhouse had the right to fire his rifle out of fear of death or great bodily harm—a decision gun rights groups saw as a win to their cause.

"Today, the American justice system worked as designed, and a young man who has been lambasted, defamed, and threatened by the media and anti-gun Left was declared innocent of all the charges against him," the executive director of the National Foundation of Gun Rights (NFGR), Dudley Brown, said in a statement following the verdict.

The NFGR was one of the first organizations to back Rittenhouse, raising over $50,000 last year to help pay for the teen's legal fees.

"Self-defense is a God-given right, and Kyle defended himself in the face of grave danger and bodily harm," Dudley said. "We hope that Kyle will now be allowed to live a free and prosperous life, and that all Americans will understand that the Second Amendment isn't about hunting – it's about the right to defend oneself from tyranny and lawless criminal actors."

On the other side, gun control advocates called the verdict "a perversion of justice," "a horrifying reminder" and "a gross miscarriage of justice." They cautioned that allowing Rittenhouse to walk free would permit gun violence across the country to persist.

Rittenhouse lawyers' trial playbook: Don't 'crusade,' defend

  Rittenhouse lawyers' trial playbook: Don't 'crusade,' defend Soon after a Wisconsin jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges against him, defense attorney Mark Richards took a swipe at his predecessors, telling reporters that their tactics — leaning into Rittenhouse's portrayal as a rallying point for the right to carry weapons and defend oneself — were not his. “I was hired by the two first lawyers. I’m not going to use their names,” Richards said Friday. “They wanted to use Kyle for a cause and something that I think was inappropriate — and I don’t represent causes. I represent clients.

"There is no right to carry a firearm—much less an illegally bought assault rifle—across state lines to terrorize and play 'police officer,'" the Brady Campaign's chief counsel, Jonathan Lowy, said in a statement. "And this tragedy shows what happens when civilians feel entitled to bring guns anywhere."

"If the Kenosha Killer had not brought an assault rifle to that protest, no one would have died. Because he did, two people were killed," Lowy continued.

A Black Lives Matter supporter (L) argues with a supporter of Kyle Rittenhouse in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse while the jury deliberates the Rittenhouse trial on November 16, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Nathan Howard/Getty © Nathan Howard/Getty A Black Lives Matter supporter (L) argues with a supporter of Kyle Rittenhouse in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse while the jury deliberates the Rittenhouse trial on November 16, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Nathan Howard/Getty

However, racial justice activists argued against the debate entirely, describing it as a distraction from the real issue at hand.

"This was never a case on the right to bear arms, or the right to defend yourself, this was a case on white supremacy," Johnson said. "The fact that Rittenhouse was able to be apprehended safely, made out to be a victim in the media, and ultimately walk away a free man at the decision of a nearly all-white jury paints a grim picture of the state of race relations in this country."

As various groups continue to use the verdict to make political statements about the social climate of America, legal experts have maintained that the jury's decision is one pertaining to a specific criminal case and not a wider generalization on where the nation stands on racism or guns.

Speaking with reporters outside the courthouse, Rittenhouse's defense attorney, Mark Richards, said that unlike Rittenhouse's prior attorneys, he did not take on the defendant's case to argue a cause.

Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal sparks protests across US

  Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal sparks protests across US Demonstrations sprang up nationwide in protest of the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict Friday night. The verdict sparked outrage among those who feared an acquittal would embolden vigilantism, and anger in the families of the men shot who were seeking accountability and justice. Others, including pro-gun conservatives, have hailed Rittenhouse as a hero who was protecting private property from rioters.

"I don't represent causes, I represent clients," Richards said.

"If [Rittenhouse] was looking for someone to go off on a crusade, I wasn't his lawyer," he added.

Michael McAuliffe, a former federal prosecutor and former elected state attorney, also emphasized to Newsweek that neither political issue was being presented to the jury.

"The case––legally––is about the shooting deaths of two individuals, the wounding of a third person with a weapon and the reckless endangerment of others. Self-defense is the legal justification for those actions," he said. "The evidence and the jury instructions don't address or refer to race or the Second Amendment. And, as you know, the gun charge was dismissed."

Rittenhouse had also been charged of unlawful possession of a firearm by a minor, but the defense team successfully argued that the charge should be dismissed based on the size of the rifle's barrel.

A Black Lives Matter supporter (L) argues with a supporter of Kyle Rittenhouse in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse while the jury deliberates the Rittenhouse trial on November 16, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Nathan Howard/Stringer © Nathan Howard/Stringer A Black Lives Matter supporter (L) argues with a supporter of Kyle Rittenhouse in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse while the jury deliberates the Rittenhouse trial on November 16, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Nathan Howard/Stringer

"The underlying tension in the case may well be about guns and one's use of weapons in a situation that has the backdrop of confusion and chaos," McAuliffe said.

"However, the jury's job is to ignore the larger issues and focus on whether the defendant committed a crime or crimes through his actions that evening," he added. "Criminal juries shouldn't be making larger policy statements when determining the potential criminal culpability of a defendant."

Even the prosecution and President Joe Biden have urged the nation to respect the jury's verdict and trust the system, despite earlier remarks expressing hope there might be some type of guilty verdict.

Acquitted and in demand, Rittenhouse ponders what's next

  Acquitted and in demand, Rittenhouse ponders what's next KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — When he was acquitted of murder in shootings during unrest in Wisconsin, Kyle Rittenhouse went from staring at possible life behind bars to red-hot star of the right: an exclusive interview with Tucker Carlson and a visit with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago capped by a photo of both men smiling and snapping a thumbs-up. For Rittenhouse, a year of legal uncertainty over whether his claim of self-defense would stand up has given way to uncertainty over what’s next. He told Carlson, in an appearance that spiked the host’s ratings by some 40%, that he hoped to become a nurse or maybe even a lawyer. He planned to “lay low” but would for sure leave the Midwest.

"While we are disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected," lead prosecutor Thomas Binger said in a Friday statement. "We are grateful to the members of the jury for their diligent and thoughtful deliberations."

Biden echoed those sentiments, saying: "While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken."

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  • Rittenhouse Verdict Leaves Gun Control Advocates 'Enraged,' Gun Rights Groups 'Thrilled'
  • Ben Crump Calls Kyle Rittenhouse 'Racist, Homicidal Vigilante' After Not Guilty Verdict

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Acquitted and in demand, Rittenhouse ponders what's next .
KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — When he was acquitted of murder in shootings during unrest in Wisconsin, Kyle Rittenhouse went from staring at possible life behind bars to red-hot star of the right: an exclusive interview with Tucker Carlson and a visit with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago capped by a photo of both men smiling and snapping a thumbs-up. For Rittenhouse, a year of legal uncertainty over whether his claim of self-defense would stand up has given way to uncertainty over what’s next. He told Carlson, in an appearance that spiked the host’s ratings by some 40%, that he hoped to become a nurse or maybe even a lawyer. He planned to “lay low” but would for sure leave the Midwest.

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