This may be a bit old-fashioned for legal experts, but, by God, it’s disappointing to be reminded over and over again that the justice system is truly blind: to the transport of justice, privileging flawed laws over universal truths.

So forgive me for thinking this, but who gives a damn about the law when law-keepers can kill and maim with abandon? When do the laws allow murder and corrupt the idea of ​​”justice” in the process? How do we evaluate a society that is quick to judge those who protest against these legislators, but remains indifferent to the senseless brutality that takes them to the streets in the first place? A society that is more easily horrified by the destruction of property than by the mutilation of its own soul?

Kyle Rittenhouse was 17 when he shot and killed two men and wounded a third with a semiautomatic rifle during protests for the lives of blacks in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. On Friday, the now 18-year-old was found not guilty of five counts in those murders, including murder and attempted murder.

Eighteen years old. Barely an adult, right? A compassionate society would seek rehabilitative rather than purely punitive justice for someone so young.

However, let’s also consider this.

Rittenhouse, then 17, wields a semiautomatic rifle, kills two men, wounds a third, walks toward a police car in the ensuing chaos while still touching his gun, apparently to surrender, and pepper sprayed by police.

Tamir Rice, 12. She was only 12 in 2014, playing with a toy gun, in a quiet playground in Cleveland, Ohio, when police shoot him dead for possibly being a threat. The cop who killed him never charged. The boy’s apparent fault: being black.

Trayvon Martin was 17 in 2012, killed for the crime of wearing a hoodie and carrying a pack of Skittles in Florida. George Zimmerman, the man who killed him, claimed self-defense and was acquitted.

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Mark Hughes, a 34-year-old black man in 2015, appears with a legally purchased AR-15 rifle at a protest in Dallas in the state of Texas. The protest turns deadly, leaving five police officers dead. Hughes quickly turns over his gun to the police and helps them evacuate people from the rally, but the Dallas police department still circulates his photo around the world and names him as the prime suspect.

Weather hugs Facing thousands of death threats, Rittenhouse quickly became an “all-American” vigilante hero on the right.

Are we supposed to care about which particular set of laws in which particular state allows fully armed people to claim self-defense against unarmed people? Are we supposed to reassure ourselves that a grossly unjust acquittal was simply the procedure of the law as decreed? Are we supposed to be blind to the knowledge that such laws, including the basic presumption of innocence, never apply equally?

Apparently we are. US President Joe Biden said “the jury system works and we have to abide by it.”

Rittenhouse came to Kenosha to help protect a car dealership at the invitation of the owner. He entered a smoking tinderbox of a situation with a dangerous weapon that he had nothing to carry and that immediately made him a threat. And when the people around him responded to him like the threat he was, he reacted to that fear with his own. And he claimed he responded in self-defense.

As the parents of Anthony Huber, one of Rittenhouse’s victims, put it, the not guilty verdict “sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence and then use the danger they have created to justify shoot people in the street. “

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Of course, the presiding judge would kick me out of court for using the word “victim” to refer to one of the men Rittenhouse killed. Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum could be called “troublemakers” and “looters” but not “victims,” ​​said Bruce E. Schroeder. The banking bias in this very public trial gave us a warning, it rightly turns out, of what justice would look like in this court with its mostly white jury.

Closer to home, it was an all-white jury that in 2018 acquitted Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley, who shot and killed Colten Boushie, after the 22-year-old Cree man and his friends from the Red Pheasant First Nation arrived on Stanley’s rural property in 2016.

We live in times when taking the life of a human in exchange for a threat to one’s property is taken for granted, if the murderer is white.

The case then divided the country, with the Canadians. donating thousands of dollars for rival defense funds. But thankfully it also led to a change in the jury selection process to improve racial representation.

A mostly white jury in another high-profile trial is expected to begin deliberations on Monday. Such is the case of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was chased through a Georgia neighborhood by three white men and shot at point-blank range, after which one of the men uttered a racial slur. They said they were attempting a “citizen’s arrest” because they assumed the morning runner was a robbery suspect.

But even a guilty plea in that trial is unlikely to make a dent in the overall injustice of racism. Not at this time when historically poisoned race relations are exposing a justice system as something beyond reform.

One thought on “Opinion | Damn the laws that absolve Kyle Rittenhouse for showing no interest in justice

  1. Sam says:

    Pretty racist article. What were they doing in the car dealership?

    There’s no right to legally protest on private property. You can protest in the street. But get off people’s private property.

    This is an opinion piece but you are devoid of any facts.

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