Kenosha: White Vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse Acquitted on All Charges in Murder of Two Protesters

A Thoroughly Unjust Trial, A Green Light to Fascist Terror, An Inescapable Challenge to Decent People

On November 19, a nearly all-white jury in Kenosha acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges in the murders of Joseph “JoJo” Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and the severe wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz—the heroes who confronted this fascist vigilante during protests against the police shooting of Jacob Blake Jr. in August 2020.

Heroes killed in the lineof protest in Kenosha by Rittenhouse

 

Outrage on Top of Outrage

On August 23, 2020, a Kenosha cop shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back, right in front of his kids, paralyzing him. Thousands took to the streets in righteous protest that was met with rubber bullets, tear gas and the National Guard. Hundreds continued to brave this police violence and stayed in the street.

After two days of this, organized fascist vigilantes showed up with heavy weapons, and were given free rein and encouragement by police to intimidate demonstrators, which led to Kyle Rittenhouse shooting three protesters.

After the protests died down Kenosha authorities, followed by the U.S. Justice Department, announced that they wouldn't even prosecute the cop that shot Blake.

And now Rittenhouse goes free… and National Guard are mobilized, and the threat of either police or fascist violence hangs like a suffocating cloud over anyone who may want to protest. Fascists are described as “elated.”

The System “Works”… to Enforce White Supremacy

After the verdict, President Biden said “The jury system works, and we must abide by it.”1 But millions of people have learned full well how the U.S. jury system “works,” and has “worked” for centuries. The way it worked for two men who lynched Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955—acquitted! The way it worked for four cops who killed Amadou Diallo in a hail of 41 shots in the Bronx in 1999—acquitted! The way it worked for George Zimmerman, the vigilante murderer of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012—acquitted!

Yes, it is shocking, infuriating and heart-wrenching to see America’s “Justice” system once again act to defend white supremacist violence, and people should be outraged and moved to act in opposition to such a system.

Not Just a Continuation of White Supremacist Injustice, but a Qualitative Leap Towards Fascism

But this trial and acquittal is not just a continuation of America’s vicious history of white supremacy, and of its unjust “justice” system. The legalization of violence and terror carried out by “civilian” vigilantes is a major leap towards fascism. And that is what has been happening in plain view for a decade or more, with the passage of “Stand Your Ground” laws and through court decisions like the Zimmerman acquittal. These are signals to every armed wannabe pig or fascist lunatic to “take the law into their own hands,” especially to “regulate” Black and Brown people.

The Rittenhouse verdict goes even further—as we said last week, it puts “a judicial stamp of approval on [organized fascists’] ‘right’ to bring high-powered weapons to protests, brandish them at progressive demonstrators, kill people they deem ‘violent rioters,’ and anybody who dares try to disarm them, and with all this, on their domination of the ‘public square.’”

Rittenhouse "Not Guilty": We can't let these fascists have the future!

 

A Fascist-Friendly Trial for a Fascist Vigilante

A powerful statement from Anthony Huber’s parents (Karen Bloom and John Huber) called out the reality of what went down on August 25, 2020:

In response to racist and violent calls to action from militia members, Mr. Rittenhouse travelled to Kenosha illegally armed with an assault rifle. He menaced fellow citizens in the street. Though he was in open violation of a curfew order, Kenosha police encouraged him to act violently. Kenosha police told militia members that they would push peaceful protestors toward the militia so that the militia could “deal with them.” Soon after, Mr. Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum. The police did nothing. Concerned citizens, confronted with a person shooting indiscriminately on the street, stepped in to stop the violence. Anthony was shot in the chest trying to disarm Mr. Rittenhouse and stop his shooting spree. Still, the police did nothing. Mr. Rittenhouse continued to shoot, maiming Gaige Grosskreutz. The police let Mr. Rittenhouse leave the scene freely. Mr. Rittenhouse came to Kenosha armed to kill. Kenosha police encouraged him to act violently, and our son is dead as a result.

The statement also said:

No reasonable person viewing all of the evidence could conclude that Mr. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense.

But this trial, far from being a “reasonable” examination of all the evidence, was poisoned by the fascist-friendly role of presiding judge Bruce Schroeder (as well as the defense attorneys)—his courtroom echoed and reflected the rise of fascism in society: rulings that were blatantly biased towards the vigilante defendant, open bullying of the prosecution, demonization and criminalization of protesters against police brutality, and outright celebration of murder.

A few examples:

  • In pre-trial motions Schroeder ruled that the men Rittenhouse killed or wounded could not be referred to as “victims” because that was “a loaded term.” But he went on to allow defense counsel and witnesses to routinely demonize all the protesters as “violent rioters,” “looters,” “a mob.” In closing arguments, defense counsel Mark Richards went so far as to say of JoJo Rosenbaum (Rittenhouse’s first victim), “I’m glad he shot him”! As if JoJo was human garbage, best disposed of.
  • When defense counsel cross-examined the sole survivor, Gaige Grosskreutz, he was allowed to bring up Grosskreutz’s affiliation with the “People’s Revolution” group (which advocates police reform and believes that “all lives cannot matter until Black lives matter”)—as if this political activity was itself a crime! But when a prosecutor tried to question Drew Hernandez, a rabid fascist “journalist,” as to his possible bias, the judge cut this off, claiming that “this is not a political trial.”

Add to this that the Rittenhouse family and fascist forces raised millions of dollars for his defense. And add to that the fact that most of the key witnesses who testified were either fascist vigilantes or fascist journalists, who casually lied about why they (including Rittenhouse) brought their guns to Kenosha, and demonized the defendants and the protests themselves. Whereas, not a single person testified as to why protesters were there, why people were angry, or how it felt to be confronted with lines of hostile armed vigilantes. And only Grosskreutz testified to how it felt when one of those vigilantes actually started shooting people. The jury was presented with a narrative of events largely as seen through the eyes of fascists!

(For more, go here, here and here.)

An Inescapable Challenge to the Decent People

This trial and outrageous acquittal are now at the cutting edge of very dangerous developments. If people close their eyes and hope it will just “go away,” it will likely lead into a downward spiral of increasing fascist terror and increasing passivity on the part of the decent people. Only by seriously confronting the reality of the situation can we act to transform it—by bringing forward more, and more determined, resistance and most fundamentally revolution, to defeat this drive towards fascism, and to uproot the whole system of capitalism imperialism, which arose and thrives on white supremacy, and has given rise to and nurtures fascism. (See A Declaration, A Call To Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution.)

From the Revcoms: A Declaration, A Call to Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution

 

Statement of Karen Bloom and John Huber in Response to the Rittenhouse Verdict

November 19, 2021

FROM LOEVY AND LOEVY BLOG

Kenosha, Wisconsin – We are heartbroken and angry that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted in his criminal trial for the murder of our son Anthony Huber. There was no justice today for Anthony, or for Mr. Rittenhouse’s other victims, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz.

We did not attend the trial because we could not bear to sit in a courtroom and repeatedly watch videos of our son’s murder, and because we have been subjected to many hurtful and nasty comments in the past year. But we watched the trial closely, hoping it would bring us closure.

That did not happen. Today’s verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son. It 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 shooting people in the street. We hope that decent people will join us in forcefully rejecting that message and demanding more of our laws, our officials, and our justice system.

Make no mistake: our fight to hold those responsible for Anthony’s death accountable continues in full force. Neither Mr. Rittenhouse nor the Kenosha police who authorized his bloody rampage will escape justice. Anthony will have his day in court.

No reasonable person viewing all of the evidence could conclude that Mr. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. In response to racist and violent calls to action from militia members, Mr. Rittenhouse travelled to Kenosha illegally armed with an assault rifle. He menaced fellow citizens in the street. Though he was in open violation of a curfew order, Kenosha police encouraged him to act violently. Kenosha police told militia members that they would push peaceful protestors toward the militia so that the militia could “deal with them.” Soon after, Mr. Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum. The police did nothing. Concerned citizens, confronted with a person shooting indiscriminately on the street, stepped in to stop the violence. Anthony was shot in the chest trying to disarm Mr. Rittenhouse and stop his shooting spree. Still, the police did nothing. Mr. Rittenhouse continued to shoot, maiming Gaige Grosskreutz. The police let Mr. Rittenhouse leave the scene freely. Mr. Rittenhouse came to Kenosha armed to kill. Kenosha police encouraged him to act violently, and our son is dead as a result.

We are so proud of Anthony, and we love him so much. He is a hero who sacrificed his own life to protect other innocent civilians. We ask that you remember Anthony and keep him in your prayers.

_______________

FOOTNOTES:

1. A few hours later, perhaps realizing how offensive that was to tens of millions of people, he made another statement describing himself as “angry and concerned,” but still sticking with his basic position that “the jury has spoken.” [back]

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