• Janice Lin

Do You Remember Kyle Rittenhouse?


On August 23rd, 2020, Jacob Blake, a black man living in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was shot by the police multiple times, causing him to become paralyzed from the waist down. The event set off nights of protests that caused violence; a used car dealership, a furniture store, and a state parole office were burned in downtown Kenosha. Many storefronts and vehicles were damaged across the city as well.


During these nights of protests, there were self-appointed protectors of local businesses. They were mostly white men carrying guns. One of the people present was Kyle Rittenhouse.


Seventeen at the time, Rittenhouse came from Antioch, Illinois, and claims that he came to Kenosha to protect a local car dealership from being vandalized by protesters. He was also armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle, as Wisconsin’s open-carry laws allow those older than eighteen to bear arms. On the night of August 25, 2020, Rittenhouse killed two people and injured one more.


The first shots killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 30, who was unarmed. However, he is said to have been released from a mental hospital a week before. According to his fiancé during the Rittenhouse trial, Rosenbaum took antidepressants for bipolar disorder, but failed to take his medication that day. As testified by witnesses, he was heard yelling, “F**k the police” repeatedly. “I’m not afraid to go back to jail,” and “shoot me [n-word], shoot me [n-word].”


Anthony Huber, 26, was the second person killed that night, who was also unarmed. Huber was a friend of Jacob Blake, which was why he was at the protests. After Rosenbaum had been shot, Rittenhouse ran, with people chasing him and Huber ran too. Huber had a skateboard on hand and used it to bang Rittenhouse on the head, attempting to disarm Rittenhouse, but Rittenhouse fired a lethal shot in his chest.


Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, was the third victim who was shot in the arm, losing 90% of his right bicep. Grosskreutz was also with Huber, running after Rittenhouse. Grosskreutz was armed with a pistol that night, but he also had medical supplies. He claims he was to help out with medical care and had experience since he had been to dozens of protests over the summer. It was agreed upon during the trial that Grosskreutz was pointing his weapon at Rittenhouse when he was shot, but claims to have done so as part of a gesture of surrender. Grosskreutz survived the shooting and testified during the Rittenhouse trial.



As for the trial itself, Rittenhouse was facing seven charges. The first one was first-degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, in regards to Rosenbaum’s death. The charge was punishable by up to 60 years in prison, and depending on the weapon, could add another five years. The second charge was first-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon, also in regards to Rosenbaum and others in the line of fire. The third change was first-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon again, but now for when Rittenhouse fired rounds at an unknown man who ran away. This charge is a felony punishable by twelve-and-a-half years in prison, plus five years, again, depending on the weapon.


The fourth charge was first-degree intentional homicide through the use of a dangerous weapon, both charges involving Huber’s death. This would have meant a life sentence. The fifth charge was attempted first-degree intentional homicide through the use of a dangerous weapon for shooting Grosskreutz.


The sixth charge was possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, which was dismissed by the judge on November 15. The last and final charge was failure to comply with an emergency order from the state or local government, which was also dismissed by the judge. This charge has to do with Rittenhouse breaking the 8pm curfew, which is a minor offense with a fine.


All five of the standing charges against Rittenhouse carry significant weight and possible prison time. Rittenhouse’s defense included a line of questioning that painted Rittenhouse as using his gun to protect himself. Even for those who did not follow the Rittenhouse trial, no one could forget Rittenhouse’s cries as he was up on the witness stand. In the end, the jury deliberated for 3 and 1/2 days and declared Rittenhouse’s full acquittal.


From this case, some say that self-defense laws are colliding with another set of laws, open-carry laws, while others are simply upset from Rittenhouse’s acquittal. Since his trial’s end, Rittenhouse has gone on an interview with Fox News and stated, “I’m not a racist person. I support the BLM movement, I support peacefully demonstrating.” Although he was also offered internships by Republican politicians, Rittenhouse said he is focused on attending college and eventually becoming a nurse or a lawyer.