“The Whole Damn System is Guilty” – Kyle Rittenhouse Acquitted On All Charges

Image courtesy of DonkeyHotkey via Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0

After 23 hours of deliberation over four days, the jurors in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse returned a verdict of not guilty for all charges. Rittenhouse was charged with five felonies – including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and first-degree attempted intentional homicide – after he fatally shot two people and injured a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin last summer.

The trial has drawn significant outrage throughout the duration. In October, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder told prosecutors that they could not refer to the three men shot by Rittenhouse as “victims,” though he said that they could be referred to as “rioters” or “looters” if the defense could show they engaged in that activity. The ruling drew outrage in some legal circles.

In the moments following the verdict, Justin Blake – uncle of Jacob Blake, one of Rittenhouse’s victims – said he didn’t understand the jury’s decision. Blake described  Rittenhouse as the second white person to escape charges for a shooting in Kenosha, a reference to officer Rusten Sheskey, whose shooting of Blake’s nephew sparked the protests that drew Rittenhouse to Kenosha in the first place.

“I don’t know how they came to the final conclusion that he’s innocent, but this is why African Americans say the whole damn system is guilty,” Blake said. “This must end.”

Even before the jury verdict was announced, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) sent an email to supporters accusing “corporate media, Big Tech, and the Democratic Party” of convicting Rittenhouse “in the court of public opinion” and attempting to ruin Rittenhouse’s life.

“This case should never have been brought in the first place,” DeSantis wrote. “Unfortunately, this is the foreseeable product when you have poorly run Democratic cities that have entirely abandoned the concept of law and order, and a corporate press that gaslights people into believing that rioters are the good guys and protectors are the bad guys.”

It’s worth noting that the concept of “law and order” has been recognized as a common rallying cry among white supremacists and Nazi supporters in order to justify their authoritarian approaches to governance. University of Birmingham researcher Gavin Byrne describes in his paper The Jargon of ‘Law and Order’: From Nazism to the Trump Campaign via Heidegger how the concept of “law and order” and the culture of Nazism has been allowed to flourish in today’s society:

“While Nazism was defeated militarily and its political apparatus destroyed, the works of its most celebrated philosophers have flourished in the post-war era … When we perpetuate these ideas, even in abstract, philosophical discussions, we unwittingly perpetuate a conception of the relationship between human beings and the world that is conducive to far-right political and legal goals.”

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