The impression that many progressives have that America’s justice system is fatally flawed by the unequal application of the law based on the color of the defendant’s skin and the political affiliation of the presiding judge was just reinforced today by the verdict in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse after a jury found him innocent of the murder charges filed against him.
Rittenhouse, an Illinois teenager who traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin with his AR-15-style rifle during the BLM protests against the police shooting of Jacob Blake — and killed two people and wounded one other while supposedly defending a car dealership from potential vandalism — was found to have acted in self-defense despite video evidence that showed him fatally firing at the people that the judge in the case, Bruce Schroeder, refused to allow prosecutors to refer to as “victims.”
The verdict in the politically polarizing trial caused much consternation on social media as people reacted to the news of the jury’s decision.
And just like that Rittenhouse becomes a young George Zimmerman.
— Naveed Jamali (@NaveedAJamali) November 19, 2021
What a terrible, awful truth about this country has been confirmed (again) today.
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) November 19, 2021
White nationalist hate group has found “the hero we’ve been waiting for” in Kyle Rittenhouse.
Pretty sure I can figure out the subtext there, thanks! pic.twitter.com/LgaP37tFLB
— Michael Edison Hayden (@MichaelEHayden) November 19, 2021
Every LARPing pretend cop and "rioter" is now emboldened to carry a firearm and use deadly force.
We have just witnessed the next step toward "The Purge" becoming real in the United States.
— TechDavid (@TechDavid45) November 19, 2021
I don’t think “killing people is very very bad” should be a controversial opinion
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) November 19, 2021
The Rittenhouse verdict is moot and offers zero systemic changes either way. The news hasn't made a peep about Jacob Blake. We're no closer to reforming stand your ground or open-carry laws. It's a media circus meant to generate views with no concessions in the way of progress.
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) November 19, 2021
So apparently those 10,000 right wing tweets I’ve read for two weeks that the jury was going to convict him because they were in fear of a woke mob turned out to be wrong. What a shocker.
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) November 19, 2021
Rottenhouse got $500,000 in donations for his legal defense & another $2 MILLION for his bail
He is heralded as the hero of the right
How long before he becomes a Fox News contributor, gets a book deal, and is elected to Congress by a ruby red district?https://t.co/pO5Fv6HxS0
— Lindy Li (@lindyli) November 19, 2021
Also, I am sad but constrained to add, an 11-1 white jury that was asked to convict—for first degree murder—a frightened-looking white kid who looked even younger than his age and who shook like a leaf as if on cue.
— howardfineman (@howardfineman) November 19, 2021
Please read, process, & share the wise words of Kenneth Ray McCain.
He is a hero who has seen the ugly face of war.
He knows the reality.
He knows what a terrorism is.
He knows Donald Trump is inciting, encouraging, & emboldening domestic terrorists.
He knows it’s treason. pic.twitter.com/UbXhikwnlV
— The USA Singers (@TheUSASingers) September 3, 2020
Yup, I can understand they had to prove it was murder to call them victims, but to rule that it was okay to call them rioters or looters without proof they were looting or rioting… I knew he'd walk
— Taylor (@enwreathe) November 19, 2021
Rittenhouse crossed states lines — there is federal jurisdiction. Get this out of Kenosha. Bring charges in federal court with a federal judge in Milwaukee, with the US Attorneys Office and the FBI.
— Tristan Snell (@TristanSnell) November 19, 2021
It's the precedent it sets. It's the good ol' days again. If you're an aggrieved white person you can take the law and guns into your own hands, stand your ground, be a violent vigilante, and send a message so they all know who's boss. Don't even have to wear hoods anymore.
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) November 19, 2021
Unfortunately, the response from right-wing pundits on Twitter was celebratory as if the murder of two human beings was in any way justified by the fear of demands for equal justice for all American citizens.
Today’s verdict simply demonstrates how far we are from achieving those aims and how much work remains to be done to transform the justice system into an equitable forum that treats all those accused of crimes under the same standards of accountability.
This can only be changed at the ballot box, folks. It’s time to abandon complacency and make sure that the right-wing politicians who confirm judges whose own biases taint the conduct of a prosecution are defeated and replaced with people committed to reform.
Meanwhile, Republican congressmen ranging from Paul Gosar to Matt Gaetz to Madison Cawthorn are offering the murderous teenager prestigious internships in their Capitol Hill offices in celebration of his violent behavior.
The world gets more twisted every day.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.